Employment and Wages

Employment in Kansas’ retail trade industry increased by 786 workers in 2022. This is a decline from the 2.1% growth seen in 2021. Prior to 2017, the sector saw growth for six consecutive years, adding approximately 9,500 jobs from 2010 to 2016. Food and beverage stores saw the most significant decline in employment, losing 142 workers. Retail establishments have seen a declining footprint, seeing constant decline since 2016. Since 2010, Kansas retail establishments have declined by 12.4%. This is indicative of a broader trend of decline in retail exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wages across the sector saw a 5.8% increase. This was a slowdown from 2022’s 6.2% increase, which was tied for the fastest seen in the past 25 years. Wages increased for each subsector where data was available.


News and Developments

  • In June 2023, Governor Kelly signed House Bill 2316 (COVID-19 Retail Storefront Property Tax Relief), which approved the investment of $50 million to help small businesses recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. This program is funded through the federal American Rescue Plan Act and will have a continued impact on the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • In July 2023, North-Dakota based sporting goods retailer Scheels completed renovations on their new anchor store in the Towne East Mall in Wichita. The 220,000 square foot renovation will replace the former Sears location, indicative of the rise of sporting goods in the retail space.
  • After filing for bankruptcy for the second time in three years, discount retailer Tuesday Morning announced the closure of its stores in early May. The retailer had 4 locations in Kansas at the time, in addition to a previous recent closure of their store in Wichita.
  • In July 2023, the city of Mission voted to terminate the developer’s contract for Mission Gateway, a proposed project expected to cost $268 million including $68 million in tax increment funding. The city cited an unpaid tax bill of about $450,000.
  • In September 2023, the owners of the Kansas City Plaza retail shopping area defaulted on their loans. This has potential consequences for shoppers in the Kansas City area and could have broader implications for the retail economy in the area.
  • It was reported in May 2023 that retail crime in Wichita increased by 35% from 2022. Attorney General Chris Koback offered remarks in support of Senate Bill 174, which includes changes on how the state will prosecute organized crime in multiple counties. The bill was passed by the Senate and approved by Governor Laura Kelly.
  • In December 2022, construction began on the $125 million Overland Park mixed-use Bluhawk development. The sports complex will also be host to retail space, including Kansas’s first Whataburger. The Overland Park City Council approved $49 million in star bonds for the project.

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