As retailers hunt for their best growth opportunities, market-level insights provide an excellent starting point. You want to plant your business in the cities and trade areas where you’ll have the best chance of establishing one or more thriving locations, and where you can expect to see continued growth.
Some of the largest US cities are shrinking in population. The American workforce is becoming more distributed—remote work continues to give office workers the flexibility they need to live in more affordable cities and suburbs. So while New York City or Los Angeles may have millions of potential customers, there’s less demand and fewer opportunities for your business to capitalize on.
Want to set up shop in a city where demand for retail is growing? Check out the fastest-growing U.S. cities below. We used the latest U.S. census data to highlight the 10 cities with at least 50,000 people that have seen the highest percentage of population growth year over year.
While population growth alone won’t tell you if a market is a good fit for your business, such rapid expansion means there’s a high likelihood these cities have unsatisfied demand for retail. And with a sudden increase in tax revenue and the need for employment opportunities and attractions, these cities are sure to invest in business development. For each city, we’ll also share some insights about the state of retail growth and an overview of the city’s demographic information.
(Note: At the time of publication, the Census Bureau’s latest data for total retail sales was from 2017. This is still useful for comparison purposes, but current numbers are likely higher.)
More involved processes like retail void analysis or white space analysis will help you gauge the degree to which these cities might represent opportunities for your business, and site selection software can help you zero in on specific trade areas and locations, but this list will help you focus your deeper explorations.
|Latest Census Population (2021)
Population Growth: +10.5%
Median Household Income: $80,416
Total Retail Sales: $1,510,053,000
A short commute from the Texas state capitol, Georgetown is the fastest-growing city in the nation. While it’s certainly not one of the largest cities in the US, for several consecutive years, Georgetown has had record growth in population and permits for residential and non-residential developments. Georgetown’s most recent “State of the City” address expressed their commitment to investing in infrastructure and noted specific plans for developing new business centers.
Home to the oldest university in Texas, Southwestern University, Georgetown’s population is more educated than the typical US city. Almost 95% of the population has a high school diploma (10% above the national average), and 45.9% have a bachelor’s degree or higher (also about 10% above the average).
2. Leander, Texas
Population Growth: +10.1%
Median Household Income: $117,090
Total Retail Sales: $244,575,000
Leander, Texas is another suburb of Austin, right next door to Georgetown. While households are generally more affluent, there’s less spending in Leander than in the city’s fastest-growing neighbor. This lakeside city has outgrown its humble downtown and is investing heavily in a new mixed-use development nestled in the middle of their robust public transportation system. While the project won’t be completed for years, some buildings are projected to be finished by the end of 2023.
It may not boast the oldest university in Texas, but Leander does have Austin Community College, developing a local workforce in more than 100 fields of study and drawing in students from around the state.
3. Queen Creek, Arizona
Population Growth: +8.9%
Median Household Income: $111,743
Total Retail Sales: $277,242,000
Queen Creek is a little over 30 miles outside of Phoenix. This predominantly wealthy community has less than half the national poverty rate. Queen Creek hosts regional events, including equestrian competitions and the American History Festival—the largest living history event in the southwestern US. The town itself is just over 30 years old, but it’s seen significant growth in a short time. Known for its agriculture, Queen Creek also has a museum, a performing arts center, a regional park, and plenty of family-friendly activities.
4. Buckeye, Arizona
Population Growth: +8.6%
Median Household Income: $84,568
Total Retail Sales: $476,794,000
Like Queen Creek, Buckeye is a suburb of the Phoenix metropolitan area. This sprawling city covers more than 390 square miles, making it many times bigger geographically than the faster-growing cities above.
According to GrowBuckeye.com—a site devoted to attracting businesses to Buckeye—this city is significantly underserved by retail businesses, and it only has a fraction of the retail per capita as the rest of the valley surrounding Phoenix. A survey of Buckeye residents suggests that the top five retail industries people would like to see in Buckeye are:
- Clothing / Shoes / Accessories
- Warehouse Stores
- Specialty Grocery Stores
- Hobby / Art Supply Stores
- Grocery Stores
5. New Braunfels, Texas
Population Growth: +8.3%
Median Household Income: $76,890
Total Retail Sales: $2,185,042,000
New Braunfels is a diverse Texas city with a strong German heritage that shows in the names of many local establishments, including one of its largest employers, the Schlitterbahn Waterpark Resort. Every year, the city hosts a German sausage festival called Wurstfest—one of several major tourist attractions in the area. New Braunfels is home to the largest gas station in the world, and the city also has a 10,000-seat stadium and an airport.
6. Fort Myers, Florida
Population Growth: +6.8%
Median Household Income: $51,682
Total Retail Sales: $45,563,000
Despite having a substantially lower median household income and just $45.5 million in total retail sales, Fort Myers continues to be a popular tourist destination in Florida and is seeing significant population growth. The city has six institutions of higher learning, including satellite campuses for Rasmussen University, Nova Southeastern University, and Keiser University, as well as two technical colleges. Throughout the year, Fort Myers hosts several special events, including festivals, plays, concerts, and holiday celebrations.
Notably, Quicken Loans actually named Fort Myers the fastest-growing city based on residential real estate development and other factors.
7. Casa Grande, Arizona
Population Growth: +6.2%
Median Household Income: $59,175
Total Retail Sales: $973,064,000
Comfortably situated halfway between Tucson and Phoenix, Casa Grande is a suburban city with a number of attractions, including a shopping mall, a national monument (The Casa Grande Ruins), a neon sign park, the Pinal County Fairgrounds and Event Center, multiple golf courses, and a restaurant John Wayne used to frequent. While it’s known for its agriculture, Casa Grande was also once home to a cluster of fascinating dome-shaped buildings intended for technology manufacturing. Never used, the structures became part of local folklore, though they were recently demolished.
Casa Grande has about half the national average percentage of adults with bachelor’s degrees (18.8% vs. 37.9%) and an unremarkable median household income, but its proximity to two major cities, two interstate highways, and three major ports could make it a prime location for the right business.
Population Growth: +6.1%
Median Household Income: $82,388
Total Retail Sales: $283,780,000
Not to be confused with Maricopa County, Maricopa city is actually part of Pinal County, Arizona. This incorporated municipality is directly south of Phoenix. Once a vital watering hole and an integral part of the development of the southwestern US, Maricopa now features a casino, an event center, a recreation complex, and outdoor activities, including skydiving and hang gliding.
While the local population has a much higher household income than Casa Grande to the east, retail spending is also lower. However, the city is investing heavily in infrastructure, helping it better accommodate rapid growth and making it more accessible. Central Arizona College also has a campus in Maricopa, drawing students from around the state and providing diverse programs for the community.
Population Growth: +5.5%
Median Household Income: $69,265
Total Retail Sales: $467,448,000
Despite the name, North Port is located in southern Florida. The city was originally called North Port Charlotte (Port Charlotte is just south), but as the city grew, it changed the name to reflect its independence. The metropolitan area, including North Port, came in third in this list of top places to retire in the US based on life expectancy, senior living accommodations, cost of living, and local activities. The Atlanta Braves conduct their spring training in North Port every year, earning the city a special reputation among the local baseball community. North Port also has a performing arts center, an aquatic center, golf courses, and recreational facilities.
North Port came in second on Quicken Loans’ list of fastest-growing US cities, just behind Fort Myers, after factoring in residential real estate development and their other criteria.
Population Growth: +5.4%
Median Household Income: $92,779
Total Retail Sales: $378,047,000
Spring Hill is part of the Nashville metropolitan area, just south of the city. It’s one of the most educated of the fastest-growing cities on this list, with nearly half of all adults over 25 having a bachelor’s degree or higher (49.5%). Once the site of a famous Civil War battle, Spring Hill now hosts major manufacturing operations by GE and LG.
Exploring market-level opportunities is just the beginning. To prioritize the best locations for your business, you’ll need more advanced tools, capabilities, and processes to create accurate site models, forecast sales, and choose the best locations.
For that, you’ll need a robust predictive analytics solution like Tango Predictive Analytics. Tango combines GIS mapping capabilities with mobile data and comprehensive site selection criteria, empowering you to make real estate decisions you can trust.
Want to see what Tango Predictive Analytics can do for you?