In an ongoing effort to grow the local economy, achieve prosperity and opportunity for Novato residents, and increase revenues to fund essential City services, staff presented a retail market analysis to the City Council this evening. The results of the study will help the City develop strategies to strengthen and diversify business citywide and capture consumer dollars currently flowing out of Novato.

The study, commissioned by the City and recommended by the Economic Development Advisory Commission earlier this year, was based on interviews with local businesses, real estate brokers, and community stakeholders and partners, an online opinion survey of businesses and residents, evaluations of existing retail centers and potential development areas, and research and analysis of citywide and regional economic data. It revealed the City’s opportunities and challenges for business retention and attraction, areas for improvement, and estimated a retail leakage of nearly $170 million in sales for the City of Novato, the largest among all other Marin County cities.

“The study is an integral piece as we consider where, and how we—as a community—want to grow in the future,” said Mayor Pat Eklund. “I am looking forward to hearing feedback from the community on this important study.” 

According to the study, the largest leakage is in home furnishings and appliance stores at nearly $37 million, followed by building materials and garden equipment at $35 million. To assess the existing and future retail demand potential, the study referred to a regional retail trade area–which includes all of Marin and southern Sonoma counties—and estimated $850 million in lost sales, primarily in the dining and general merchandise categories.

“The purpose of this analysis is to make Novato a better place to live and to do business,” said John Williams, Chair of the City’s Economic Development Advisory Commission. “Our task now is to maximize our retail market share through thoughtful land-use policies, targeted marketing campaigns, and proactive retail recruitment and retention efforts.”

Additionally, in a move to reduce waste, litter, and pollution diverted to the Bay, the Council approved an ordinance to ban retail food vendors from using polystyrene foam for disposable food packaging. The ordinance will go into effect on January 1, 2014. For more information, please contact the City’s Community Development Department at 415.899.8989.