Business
6:00 am
Sat May 18, 2013

What Do Credit Card Swipes Tell About Downtown Louisville?

Credit Shutterstock.com

A presentation given to Louisville business leaders on Friday asked the question: What useful information can be determined through credit card swipes?

The apparent answer is: Plenty.

Data analysts from JP Morgan Chase gathered information through 2012 on how their credit card holders spent money in the 40202 zip code—downtown Louisville, essentially. The analysts said the numbers can be used as a sample of how people are spending money downtown, a longtime focus for development for city officials.

Among the analysts' findings: downtown residents make up only a small fraction (at or near 1 percent) of spending in their neighborhood. The bulk of downtown spenders, at 57 percent, came from outside of Jefferson County—which an interesting share coming from the Lexington area and from near Fort Knox.  The rest came from Jefferson County zip codes besides 40202.

"The folks who spend downtown area actually coming from further away than we think," said Stella Ng, vice president for data analysis in JP Morgan Chase's customer data analytics division.

The JP Morgan Chase data will be used in the Downtown Development Corp.'s creation of a master plan for downtown Louisville, an DDC official said. They've keyed in on several aspects of the data:

  • Louisvillians are spending the bulk of their money downtown on food and entertainment.  Not exactly shocking.
  • An apparent need for a grocer downtown—the bulk of downtown residents get their groceries in surrounding neighborhoods, including those in southern Indiana. That neither is shocking; there isn't really a place to do serious grocery shopping in 40202.
  • Another issue are the number of residents downtown. The 40202 zip code had 6,772 residents in the 2010 U.S. Census. By comparison, 40217 covering parts of Germantown to the University of Louisville's Belknap campus had a population of 12,507 and 40223 covering parts of the East End had 22,011 residents. DDC is working on a separate analysis to figure out what sort of downtown housing (and at what cost) would work best to attract new residents.
  • City officials, including Mayor Greg Fischer, have emphasized downtown retail. The JP Morgan Chase analysis showed that downtown residents do much of their retail shopping online. To the Downtown Development Corp., that may be a sign for retail potential. (Though they want to see how those numbers match up with areas outside of downtown—it may not be a local trend.)
  • DDC is also intrigued by where visitors who spend money are coming from. The JP Morgan Chase analysis doesn't exactly gibe with where people who work downtown reside—the Valley Station area and Fort Knox showed more spending than anticipated. Development officials are going to think on that one.

Another interesting point: The people who are living and spending money downtown appear to fall into two groups: seniors and young professionals. 

(Image via Shutterstock)