Bureau of Business Research


Date of this Version



A Bureau of Business Economic Research Report From the University of Nebraska–Lincoln (April 22, 2008)


Copyright 2008 Cantrell, Thompson & Ayol


The retail trade industry is a critical sector of the economy, and is an important source of tax revenue for cities. This study examines retail sales trends in the Omaha area as well as factors that determine retail sales including total population, minority population, commuting, income, wages, and total employment. We examine trends during the 1990s, and in particular during the 1997 to 2005 period. The focus is on Douglas County and a group of surrounding Nebraska counties.

We found that Douglas County remains the dominant retail center in Nebraska, but its market share is slowly eroding as competition from suburban retailers increases. Suburbanization of the Omaha area’s retail sector is likely to be a long term trend. If the Douglas County retail community is to maintain its position of dominance, it will need to pay close attention to both its competitors and to emerging market opportunities. The concentration of minority populations in Douglas County represents one such opportunity for niche oriented retail activity. Another is found in retail clusters built around Douglas County’s strongest retail sectors such as furniture, home furnishings, recreational vehicles, specialty foods and luxury items such as jewelry.