There were a lot of facts and figures thrown out at the recent Hill Country Economic Summit, but there are a few that we just can’t wrap our heads around — that retail study being the biggest. 

When we shared some of the data that was presented by the city of Kerrville via our social media channels, we got some understandable questions about the accuracy of that data. 

Indeed, when it comes to where people purchase their groceries, it was a bit of a head scratcher. The report, compiled by a consultant called The Retail Coach, estimated that Kerrville left more than $70 million on the table because people would leave the broadly defined region to shop elsewhere — mostly San Antonio. 

According to the latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers and the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey, that argument doesn’t really make sense. One reader noted that if it was really that much, why weren’t there more grocery stores in this town? 

The issue stems from the consultant’s broadly defined retail area that centers around Kerrville, which includes the new Aspen — AKA Fredericksburg. Of course, you’re going to have leakage of grocery purchases if you include Fredericksburg. Have you seen their H-E-B? They also have a Walmart. 

OK, back to the methodology and our findings are this: 

• The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the average American household spends nearly $8,000 per year on groceries — $7, 729 to be exact. 

• The American Community Survey estimates there are 24,402 households in Kerr County. 

• The Kerrville Daily Times estimates that the revenue from the grocery purchases is worth $195 million per year, if you use the BLS numbers. 

Here’s the rub: Those Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers are based on numbers of a family of three. In Kerr County, nearly a quarter of residents here live alone. While the average Kerr County family size is 2.89 people — in line with the stats — the reality is that the average household size is about two people due to the sheer number of retirees and senior citizens. 

That reduces the revenue estimate down to about $125 million per year. The study estimates that there were $108 million in grocery sales — a gap of about $17 million. That seems like it’s a little bit more realistic. We definitely understand people enjoy fighting traffic to buy 10 pounds of butter at Costco or to buy organics from Whole Foods. We get it. Those people are out there. 

There’s also a number that made us nearly choke on our Chardonnay from southeast Aspen, and that’s the book store numbers. The city’s retail gap analysis estimates that Kerrville only generated about $86,000 in retail book sales. 

Let’s think about this for a second: We’ve got three book stores in town. THREE, including Schreiner University. In fact, the College Board estimates that the average private university student spends $1,100 per year on books. We’ve got at least 1,000 of those here in Kerrville. 

So, what’s the point of this exercise?

It’s kind of pointless, sort of like the city’s retail study. 

 

PEW RESEARCH

When it comes to compelling research on the world around us, the Pew Research Center often provides a fascinating look into American life, including marriage. 

In fact, the center recently released a study that fewer than 1 in 5  U.S. adults say being married is essential for a man or a woman to live a fulfilling life. 

Similar shares of adults say that marriage is essential for women (17%) and men (16%) to live fulfilling lives. A much larger share of Americans (54%) say being married is important but not essential for men and women to live fulfilling lives. 

And about 3 in 10 say marriage is not important in this respect.

In a crushing rebuke of marriage, Pew found that Americans are more likely to point to career enjoyment. A majority (57%) say having a job or career they enjoy is essential for men to live a fulfilling life, and 46% say the same about women.

 

BERNIE MARCHES ON

When it comes to the Democratic Primary Election here in Texas, The Texas Tribune and University of Texas found that Bernie Sanders had the support of 24% of the self-identified Democratic primary voters in the poll, up from 12% in October. Sanders passed both former Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the two leaders in the October 2019 UT/TT Poll. 

Early voting in the Texas primaries starts on Tuesday; election day — Super Tuesday — is March 3.

And Michael Bloomberg, who entered the contest late, landed fourth in the newest poll, ahead of Pete Buttigieg and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, the second- and third-place finishers in last week’s New Hampshire primary. Warren finished fourth in that contest, with Biden fifth.

In one of our polls on dailytimes.com, we also saw Bernie leading the way, followed by Warren and Bloomberg. Of course, all of them were easily defeated by Baby Yoda.

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