Have you been living under a rock? No? Well then you must have heard about the latest gaming craze of Pokemon Go - an augmented reality app that is played on your smart phone. I don't really know how it works, but from what I can tell there are Pokemon characters out in the world and the goal is to walk around and capture them (I'm sure it's more complicated than that and feel free to give me lessons in the comments).
A lot has been written about the pros and cons of the latest craze, ranging from increased exercise all the way to people getting into serious car accidents, but less has been written about the economic impact.
Since the game requires the player to get off their couch it is inspiring people to go out and see places they wouldn't normally visit. For example, an article in the Washington Post highlights a small town in Prince William County, Virginia, named Occoquan, where for some reason there are a lot of these Pokemon characters that need catching. Occoquan has become well known for having so many of these characters that it has seen hundreds of people converging on the town every day. I really encourage you to read the article, as there are some laugh out loud quotes about the challenges Pokemon Go is creating for Occoquan residents - from 6 car traffic jams to hootin' and hollerin' at 4:30am.
The article does touch on how people are now visiting Occoquan multiple times a week rather than once or twice a year and how some of the local businesses are capitalizing on the trend. After reading the article I thought it would be fun to put together a hypothetical impact analysis. The following analysis is heavily based on assumptions but gives a perspective of the impact of Pokemon Go on Occoquan, VA.
Based on 100 new people visiting downtown Occoquan per day, and spending an average of $5 per visit that is equal to $182,500 in new spending per year at local businesses.
Using the EMSI economic impact modeling software, that is equal to 192,000 in new sales, 3 new jobs, and nearly $50,700 in new wages
Has your community seen an uptick in foot traffic due to Pokemon Go? Are you doing anything to help capitalize on the trend? Add your ideas in the comments.