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Frequently Asked Questions

Listed below are common questions about Esri demographic data.

How is data calculated for user-created areas?

The data summarization method delivers accurate estimates in areas that don't match up exactly to common geographic areas such as census block groups in the United States. For example, frequently a user-created area of interest such as rings, drive times, hand drawn polygons, or imported shapefiles cut through part of a census block group. To account for population that may not be evenly distributed geographically throughout a block group, the application looks at where the population is distributed at the block level (in the United States), which is a more granular level than a block group, and uses this information to summarize the data more accurately.

How accurate is the Esri Updated Demographics data, and what distinguishes it from other vendors?

Esri has a team of demographers, statisticians, and economists who use a wide variety of public and private data sources to develop a uniquely accurate and detailed picture of local population, economic, housing, and business characteristics. Using GIS tools and strong demographic estimating experience, Esri captures the effects of significant events that occur between decennial censuses.

The release of each decennial census enables data vendors to evaluate the accuracy of their annual demographic estimates by benchmarking against census results. Data vendors could also learn how their estimates compare to other providers. In 2011, Esri took advantage of this once-a-decade opportunity and commissioned an independent study to obtain an unbiased answer about its data accuracy. This blind study was conducted by four credentialed researchers and experts in small area forecasts and measures of forecast accuracy. Data from each of the five major data vendors, including Esri, was benchmarked against results from Census 2010 for the entire United States at four geography levels. This study proves that Esri's demographic update methodologies produce the industry's most accurate demographic data. Users can be confident that Esri's Updated Demographics data will provide them with the best possible analysis results. To learn more about the Vendor Accuracy Study and to read the excerpted report, visit

Esri offers a full catalog of over 15,000 variables for up to 11 levels of geography in the United States, creating an incredibly detailed picture of the U.S. population.

What are the sources for Esri demographic data?

The Esri Global Data Fact Sheet (PDF) contains details on the sources for standard and advanced demographic data available from Esri.

The Esri U.S. Data Fact Sheet (PDF) contains details on the sources for Esri demographic data in the United States.

Source and Copyright Information for MB-Research Data (PDF) provides details on the sources for standard International data available from Esri.

The advanced International data comes from the following sources:



MapData Services


Environics Analytics


Esri France





South Korea




What does the Leakage/Surplus Factor in the Retail Marketplace database mean?

The Leakage/Surplus Factor in the Retail MarketPlace database measures the balance between the volume of retail sales (supply) generated by retail businesses and the volume of retail potential (demand) produced by household spending on retail goods within the same industry.

Leakage in an area represents a condition where demand exceeds supply. In other words, retailers outside the market area are fulfilling the demand for retail products; therefore, demand is "leaking" out of the trade area. Such a condition highlights an opportunity for new retailers to enter the trade area or for existing retailers to extend their marketing outreach to accommodate the excess demand.

Surplus in an area represents a condition where supply exceeds the area's demand. Retailers are attracting shoppers that reside outside the trade area. The "surplus" is in market supply. Brand positioning and product mix are key differentiators in these types of markets.

For more information about how to decipher the Leakage/Surprlus Factor, see Retail MarketPlace Leakage/Surplus Factor Data Note (PDF).