Main Street recently has partnered with Shawnee State University, namely SSU professor Robbie Burke's marketing research class. For the past 10 months, the class has taken steps to research what can be done to prevent the decline.
The class created a questionnaire that was to be completed by local residents and the SSU community.
According to the report, "The information gathered from the research provides much-needed data about local consumers. The data will be useful for planning, revitalizing and bringing in new businesses to downtown Portsmouth. The research will provide information for existing businesses to build their customer appeal."
The data shows trends in factors that are bringing people to downtown and things that detract people from the downtown area. The information also provides insight to what respondents would like to see come to downtown Portsmouth.
There were more than 200 SSU students, faculty and staff reported surveyed, along with 157 community residents.
Questions covered such topics as background information, demographics and spending habits of the Portsmouth residents and members of the SSU community who responded.
Marketing research class students called Portsmouth residents to gather information. They said they selected numbers out of the phone book by randomly choosing three phone numbers per page.
Of survey respondents, 20.7 percent reported an annual household income between $50,000 and $74,999. The lower percentage income group, at 1.3 percent, reported an annual income of more than $150,000. Data also showed 60.5 percent of those who participated in the survey made an annual household income below $50,000.
Forty percent of those who responded reported shopping downtown for non-grocery items. When considering SSU students and Portsmouth area residents, this shows more than half of respondents do not shop downtown for non-grocery items.
The same respondents were asked if they try to buy products and services locally. They responded on a scale from one to seven - 1 represented "Very Strongly Disagree," and 7 represented "Very Strongly Agree." Sixty-six respondents claimed they try to buy things locally, 33 were neutral and 40 said they do not try to buy things locally.
Prices in downtown shops were not deemed too high or low. When respondents were asked if they recommend shopping in downtown Portsmouth, most said they would recommend shopping downtown.
When asked what kind of entertainment they would like to see downtown, most respondents recommended a comedy club. Other responses included rock concerts and first-run movies.
Participants also were asked what kind of businesses, restaurants and entertainment they would like to see downtown.
Data showed most respondents would like to see an Olive Garden restaurant come to downtown Portsmouth, followed by a Red Lobster. Other data showed most preferred a Target come to downtown, followed by a Kohl's.
In terms of entertainment, most respondents said they would like to see a dance club in downtown Portsmouth, followed by a YMCA.
Of the combined 361 respondents, nearly half said they are not satisfied with the look and feel of downtown Portsmouth. Another 52.8 percent of respondents claimed to feel unsafe in the area at night.
The results said respondents made it clear they want more businesses offering a wider variety of products and services in the area, and existing businesses are not meeting their needs.
The results also said if Main Street Portsmouth is going to succeed in economically revitalizing the downtown area, several intense measures will have to be undertaken.
The results further say, it should be considered Portsmouth is in an economically-depressed area, and any change too drastic or highly priced likely will not succeed. Portsmouth residents demonstrated a median household income of $23,300 in 2005, according to citydata.com, compared to $43,493 for the state of Ohio.
Overall, the report said any new businesses are going to have to offer products and services that are in low-to-moderate, price range, at least until the city becomes more economically stable.