The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee has created a page that is a real time-saver. They've taken data that you can find from the Census Bureau - if you had LOTS of available time - and the built a useful Web site around it.
The aim of the site is to provide data on a) consumer purchasing power and b) a workforce overview. Data can be found for specific ZIP codes, metro areas, or Census tracts.
At this Web site http://www.uwm.edu/Dept/ETI/PurchasingPower/purchasing.htm, you'll find these options:
- Purchasing Power by Census Tracts for custom made printouts of purchasing power for 16 retail categories and data on the workforce population for any U.S. census tract.
- Purchasing Power by ZIP Code for data on retail expenditures for 16 consumer areas, retail and business establishments, and the available workforce for all residential zipcodes in the U.S.
- Purchasing Power Rankings for Top 100 Metro Areas for ZIP code rankings of each of the 16 retail expenditure categories for the 100 largest metro areas.
- Free Geographic Databases for shapefiles and business, household, and workforce census databases to help map your area.
- Maps of Purchasing Power for Food-at-Home and Apparel to download free maps of purchasing power for the top 100 metro areas in the U.S.
- Urban Markets Retail Sales Leakage/Surplus Drill Downs to show the difference between each metro neighborhood's purchasing power and estimated retail sales.
(For those of you not familiar with your Census tract, you can find that out by entering a specific address at this site: http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/AGSGeoAddressServlet?_lang=en&_programYear=50&_treeId=420).I've not fully investigated this site, but it's worth a look.