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Friday, August 23, 2013

MoCo Night Life Survey Results

My office is presently conducting a constituent survey on Montgomery County's night life (share your insights here!). It is my hope that the results of the survey will aid the vital work of the Montgomery County Nighttime Economy Task Force.

From August 5 to August 13, we asked a series of questions to my email list and compiled responses. You can read the entire report here (PDF). I am sharing a brief overview of the results with you below.

First, this is not a scientific poll. The respondents were self-selected. They were not screened or stratified to be demographically representative. Our sample had the following characteristics.
  • The total number of responses was 1,831. They came from every part of the county. The most common resident locations were Silver Spring (24%), Bethesda (15%), Rockville (12%), Gaithersburg (11%), Germantown (6%) and Wheaton (6%).
  • Sixty-three percent of the respondents were married, 23% were single and 13% had a significant other. Sixty-one percent had at least one child.
  • Fifty-seven percent of the respondents worked in Montgomery County and 21% worked in D.C. Fourteen percent were retired.
  • Forty-eight percent of the respondents were age 50 or older. This makes their likely median age significantly higher than the county’s (which was 39 in 2012 according to the U.S. Census Bureau). A related fact is that 53% of the sample has lived in the county for twenty years or more, which is likely a longer tenure than average. We do present age crosstabs to reveal differences between cohorts, and those differences are significant on several questions.
We asked the following seven questions.

1. How often do you go out for a meal with friends or for entertainment?
Number %
Every couple of days 553 30%
A few times a month 908 50%
Every once in a while 340 19%
This does not concern me 30 1%

Notes: This question was tied closely to age. Forty-seven percent of respondents under 30 reported going out every couple of days, whereas less than 30% of people over 40 reported doing so. Conversely, 20% or more of people over 50 reported going out every once in a while. For younger people, that figure was consistently less than 20%.

Marital status and children were also predictors. People with significant others were the most likely to go out every couple of days (47%). Married people were the least likely (25%). Forty-one percent of people without children went out every couple of days; less than 30% of parents did so.

Residents of Bethesda, Chevy Chase and North Bethesda were more likely to go out every couple of days. Kensington and Upcounty residents were less likely to do so.

2. How would you rate the nightlife options in your area?
Number %
Great 185 10%
Okay 852 47%
Not very good 712 39%
This does not concern me 82 4%

Notes: Less than 10% of people under 50 thought their area’s nightlife options were great. A majority of people under 30 said they were not very good.

Residents of Bethesda, Chevy Chase and North Bethesda were more likely to say that their nightlife options were great (though none recorded more than 25% who said so). Majorities of residents in Briggs Chaney, Burtonsville, Clarksburg, Damascus, Gaithersburg and Germantown said their nightlife options were not very good.

3. Where do you most like to spend time for evening entertainment?
Number %
Bethesda 952 52%
Washington D.C. 952 52%
Rockville 623 34%
Silver Spring 581 32%
Northern Virginia 195 11%
Wheaton 176 10%
Baltimore 155 8%
Germantown 149 8%
Annapolis 94 5%
Gaithersburg 91 5%
Frederick 25 1%
Olney 25 1%
Another MoCo location 204 11%
Somewhere else 58 3%

Notes: Two-thirds of people under 40 picked D.C. as a favorite night spot. D.C. was also popular with people with significant others, people without kids, residents of Chevy Chase and Takoma Park, people who work in D.C. and residents who have lived in the county for less than ten years.

The popularity of Bethesda, Rockville and Silver Spring night spots was correlated with residence in or near those areas.

4. How would you rate your options for dining here in Montgomery County?
Number %
Awesome 714 39%
Just okay 1021 56%
Not great 91 5%

Notes: Respondents were more positive on dining options than nightlife entertainment options.

Age was not a reliable predictor of response to this question. Neither was marital or parental status.

Majorities of residents in Bethesda, North Bethesda and Potomac called their dining options awesome. In no area did more than 20% of residents describe their dining options as not very good.

5. What are the most important things to you in picking a place to go out at night?
Number %
Good food 1609 88%
Adequate parking 1084 59%
Close to where you live 1063 58%
Walkable area 1030 56%
Low-cost parking/free parking 946 52%
Great beer and wine selection 778 42%
Lots of great establishments nearby 707 39%
Good street lighting 657 36%
Police presence/feeling of safety 606 33%
Live music 589 32%
Accessible to public transit 486 27%
Open late 476 26%
Lots of other people there 454 25%

Notes: More than 60% of people over 50 cited adequate parking as important. Less than 40% of people under 30 agreed.

More than 60% of people under 40 thought close proximity and walkability were important. That percentage dropped slightly for older people.

Adequate parking was least important in Bethesda and Takoma Park.

Close proximity was most important in Burtonsville, Clarksburg, Damascus, Olney and Wheaton.

6. Some people say it is a real inconvenience that most grocery stores in Montgomery County do not sell beer and wine. In your opinion, is this:
Number %
A problem that needs to be fixed 1062 58%
Not a big deal 605 33%
A good thing 164 9%

Notes: Majorities of every age group except those over 70 say this is a problem that needs to be fixed. Two-thirds of people under 40 believe this.

No more than 20% of any demographic group we tracked say this is a good thing.

7. Which statement is closer to your view?
Number %
Montgomery County is a suburban community and the options that we have for dining and entertainment are just fine 482 26%
Montgomery County needs to focus on improving dining and entertainment options because it will improve everyone's quality of life while attracting younger workers to boost our economy 605 33%

Notes: Nearly every demographic group we tracked recorded a strong majority in favor of improvement.

Fifty-six percent of people over 70 and 64% of retirees believe dining and entertainment options should be improved.

Following is a comparison of the views of people under age 40 to the views of the respondents as a whole.