What is my Trade Area?

In site selection, a trade area is the surrounding market that a given site will capture. At a large home-decor department store outside of St. Catherine's, most consumers are driving a fair distance to shop there, perhaps up to an hour. The store is a destination shopping experience, so it might use a drivetime trade area of 60 mins.

Figure 1. A 5, 10, 15, 20, 15, and 25 minute drivetime heatmap in St. Catherines, ON.

On the other hand, a hip espresso bar in downtown Toronto has a highly localized customer base, the majority of customers coming from nearby office buildings during the day or shops next door. In this case, the store might use a walktime trade area of 5 minutes.

Figure 2. A 1, 3, and 5 minute walktime heatmap in downtown Toronto, ON.

💡 Keep in Mind

  • Creating a trade area on your map is the first step to customized reporting, team collaboration, and network management in PiinPoint. For more information on how you can use your trade area, see here.

Creating a Trade Area in PiinPoint

There are three methods you can use to define a trade area: by Rings, Polygons, or Drive/Walk Times. PiinPoint will automatically remember whatever trade area type you used last. 


Perhaps you just want to report on a 500m radius around one of your potential locations. Under the Trade Area Selection tool, select the Ring option:

Click on the Ring option at the top of the menu. Then simply click on the map at the centre of your ring, and drag it to the desired radius.

You can also choose to show multiple rings at a couple different radii, via Rings (Custom). You can select this trade area style in the Trade Area Selector dropdown, where it says Rings (Custom):

Just click on the map to place the marker, and enter the distances you want, e.g. 1,3,5.

Click the Check symbol to view the rings. This also allows you to be precise with how large you want your radius to be.


To define a customized trade area, use the Polygon tool. Click on Polygon option under the Trade Area Selection tool. Click on the map at the start of your trade area, and continue to click to draw your desired area. To complete the polygon either double click or click on the start-point of your polygon.

Drive or Walktime

Say you identified a potential location in a densely populated urban area. You want to know the competitive and demographic stats for an area within 5 minutes of your potential location. Use a Drivetime or Walktime heatmap from within the Search tool.

You can also generate a Drivetime from the within the Trade Area Selection menu.

Using the dropdown, select the Drivetime or Walktime option.

Click on the map to place your marker, and a heatmap will be generated. A popup menu will appear allowing you to customize the heatmap to your preference. You can change between walktime or drivetime, the distance, and inclusion of various roadway types.

💪  Power User Tip

  • A shortcut to generating a Drivetime heatmap is to simply right-click on the map beside your candidate location and select the option, Create Drivetime:

For your next steps on turning your trade area into a detailed report, click here.

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