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posted by hubie on Monday March 25, @03:49AM   Printer-friendly

Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:

The next time you're on a walk, consider stopping by that restaurant you've never been to or the local store you keep meaning to check out. They just might be the key to a vibrant local economy, according to a new study.

In a surprise finding based on anonymized cell phone mobility records, infrequent trips to places like restaurants and sports facilities—not the everyday office visit or school drop-off—accounted for the majority of differences in economic outcomes between neighborhoods.

The lesson for urban planners and individuals, researchers said, is to embrace the unusual.

[...] The activities with the strongest predictive power included French and New American restaurants, golf courses, hockey rinks, soccer games, and bagel shops. These kinds of activities accounted for just 2% of trips but explained more than 50% of the variation in economic outcomes between neighborhoods. Wang and his collaborators didn't initially expect these leisure activities to be so tied to local economic fortunes.

[...] "Those irregular and infrequent activities are correlated with explorative behavior, the tendency of some groups to seek out opportunities, connect with different people, and create new businesses," said Esteban Moro, Ph.D., a professor at Northeastern University, who co-led the study. "Looking at those infrequent activities, we are directly looking at current and potential economic opportunities in the future."

[...] What was most surprising was that trips to the office—where we earn our money—were not strongly associated with income or property values. Rather, it's how we spend our free time that drives the economic vibrancy of cities.

Journal Reference:
Wang, S., Zheng, Y., Wang, G. et al. Infrequent activities predict economic outcomes in major American cities. Nat Cities (2024).

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  • (Score: 2) by VLM on Monday March 25, @04:12PM

    by VLM (445) on Monday March 25, @04:12PM (#1350285)

    the real task at hand is making small local businesses viable again

    Retail is dead and stacking the cards against it by eliminating all possible economies of scale by focusing on going tiny is very unlikely to be successful. It's like agonizing about how to bring back farriers, tailors, and blacksmiths, and suggesting maybe the trick is to demand really small blacksmiths shops instead of fewer larger blacksmiths shops. They aren't coming back, that's what's happening.

    There's also the strange assumption that the only possible "small local businesses" is direct to hyperconsumer in-person retail, which has historically always had a HUGE failure rate so it was traditionally never really viable anyway. The successful "small local businesses" provide services, work in a trade, ultra-small scale manufacturing, hyper niche small scale manufacturing and manufacturing support, etc.

    Drive around town and look at the plots of land that make piles of money for a career vs minimum wage or less for a couple years before going out of business, then decide what kind of jobs your city needs more. My suburb has the easy to despise minimum wage froyo-fad retail that goes out of business every two years at most, but we also have multiple full industrial parks full of medium-term profitable small businesses. Better off with a city full of trademen shops (electricans plumbers welders, etc) than a city full of froyo store cashiers.

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