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Credit Union Real Estate: Walmart vs. Target?

Several months after making the decision to open a branch in a new market — and with your board fully behind the endeavor — you’re nearly ready to select a site. After a thorough search, you’ve narrowed your selection to two locations. One near a successful Walmart and the other near a busy Target.

Which do you choose? And this is where the data can get tricky, if not downright misleading.

Of course you consider your ideal prospective membership base: Educators — predominately female – in a certain income range. And in this rapidly growing suburban market, Millennials – ages 25-44 — are also right in your sweet spot. Hmmm …

Among the prized Millennial segment, Target is the retailer-of-choice. So, with the strongest earning years ahead for many of your prospective members, the Target location seems like a good bet.

But wait. Even though Target is favored by Millennials, the most common Walmart shopper profile is a 46-year old female with an above-average household income of $76,000. Yes, she’s technically outside the Millennial moniker, but not by much.

A tough call that might come down to coin flip. But here’s another consideration: Turns out that loyal Walmart customers shop the store more than twice as often as the loyal Target customer shops at Target. And since shopping and banking trips are so closely connected … well, do the math.

And here’s a final demographic byte to chew on.

Peter Francese, founder of American Demographics magazine, states that Millennials got the short end of the stick compared to Baby Boomers. “The first thing that saddled them was $1.5 trillion in student debt. Mortgage lenders look at them and say sorry, you’ve already got a mortgage called a student loan and we’re not able to give you another one.”

Personally, as a parent with one in college and two heading that way, that’s distressing. So maybe now the pendulum has swung toward Walmart. How do you decide?

One way is crudely simple. At Rubicon, we put down the spreadsheet and go shopping. We walk the aisles on a Saturday afternoon and survey the customers. Are they our credit union members of today? And perhaps more importantly, are the pre-Millennials – aka Gen Z — the Ideal Members of tomorrow?

While it may seem simplistic, you can learn a lot from this basic human observation. And at the end of the day, that personal connection is often what sets credit unions above and apart from their bank counterparts, as well as sets Rubicon apart from what is routine in the commercial real estate industry.

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Corey A. Waite is the leading commercial real estate advisor to the credit union industry. As Founder and CEO of Rubicon Concierge Real Estate Services, Corey works directly with senior Credit Union leadership to deliver strategic plans and transactional services focused on headquarters and branch locations alike. With a clear understanding of the unique mission and challenges of the Credit Union industry, Rubicon’s expertise and service is truly unique and value-added. You can reach the Rubicon Team at +1 (213) 462-2810.

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