At a recent Market Area Profile workshop in West Central MN, I was presenting results of a retail gap analysis done with 2002 economic census numbers (adjusted for inflation). Although I defended the results based on this dated information to some degree with the notion that consumption patterns do not change greatly over time, really the participants were right in looking for the most up to date information.
Luckily, 2007 Economic Census results were released this summer and provide a great view into the changing consumption patterns of the american public and the relative importance of american industries. You can access a quick look into the economic census results through their "Industry Snapshots":
How has the per capita spending on used cars changed from 2002 to 2007? Are there more newsstands in 2007 than 2002? The answer is "no." Hopefully this goes beyond simple trivia about different industries, but instead becomes a quick resource we can share with those private businesses looking for some basic benchmarks or community members looking for some basic information on what's viable in their community. We'd rather our businesses and communities not invest in today's equivalent of a buggy whip plant, but those industries and store formats which will remain a viable part of today's economy.