IF YOU REWARD THEM, THEY WILL COME

Eighty-two percent of American consumers participate in at least one retail loyalty program, according to a survey of 1,161 Americans by New York-based consultant WSL Strategic Retail. More than half of adults participate in supermarket loyalty programs. Of those, 84 percent say they try to use a program every time they shop. WSL says young people ages 18 to 35 and mature consumers over the age of 55 are more likely to sign up for a Kroger, Barnes & Noble or CVS card to save money.

Participate in Loyalty Program Use Every Time They Shop
Supermarket 58% 84%
Drug Store 27% 79%
Restaurant 19% 62%
Source: WSL Strategic Retail

VITAMIN VITALS

U.S. consumers spent $17 billion on vitamins and nutritional supplements in 2002, more than double the $8 billion spent five years ago. Shoppers can choose from 20,000 varieties of dietary supplements to cure anything from memory loss to hot flashes. And vitamin retailers are thriving. Sales are up at GNC, and The Vitamin Shoppe recently signed a lease to put a 3,700-square-foot flagship in a former Barnes & Noble store on Fifth Avenue in midtown Manhattan, paying an estimated $150 per square foot for the space. Check some other facts about American consumers' vitamin fetish:

$67.14
Amount Americans spend each year on vitamins.

5.5
Number of vitamin purchases made annually per household.

160
Vitamin Shoppe locations in United States.

77%
of U.S. households buy vitamins.

40
Number of days between vitamin purchases.

$12.28
Amount spent on vitamins per purchase.

5%
use coupons on vitamins.

5,000
GNC locations in United States.

Source: ACNielsen & company data

MORE TO LOVE

Retailers that cater to plus-sized shoppers have an ever-expanding market to tap. In 1985, the most popular size in women's apparel was eight. In 2002, it was a size 14. According to NPD research, larger-sized women account for $182 million in annual apparel sales. Now brands such as Liz Claiborne, Tommy Hilfiger and Bob Mackie are making plus-sized clothes to compete with market-dominating Charming Shoppes, which owns Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug and Catherines, and even launched a magazine called figure to be sold at Barnes & Noble stores.

HOUSTON'S HOT ZONES FOR WEALTH

Looking to buy a property or open a store in Houston? Zip codes such as 77429, 77586, 77379, 77005 and 77494 are good places to start the search if you'd like a wealthy clientele, according to the demographic map below, compiled by Claritas. Each of these suburban zip codes feature median household incomes between $85,000 and $160,000 per year. More than 20 percent of the housing in these zip codes is worth between $150,000 and $200,000. The ultimate Houston motherlode is the close-in 77027 zip code. Tweny one percent of its housing is worth more than $400,000.