Create a report

ArcGIS Business Analyst Web App allows you to research business data to determine whether a location is feasible for an upscale movie theater. In this tutorial, you'll use the app to decide whether Des Moines, Iowa, has the right population to sustain an upscale movie house in the downtown entertainment district.

First, you'll create and symbolize a map that shows your proposed theater location. Next, you'll run a Recreational Expenditures report to learn about the demographics and spending preferences around that location. A Recreational Expenditures report details how much money an area population spends on recreational activities, including viewing movies at the theater. If Des Moines has a significant theatergoing population, your movie theater has a better chance of succeeding.

License your account

To use ArcGIS Business Analyst Web App, you need an ArcGIS organizational account with the appropriate license. You can assign licenses in your organization if you have an administrator role. If you're not an administrator, ask your organization's administrator for a license. If your account is already licensed to use Business Analyst, you can skip to the next section.

  1. Sign in to your ArcGIS organization with an administrator account.

    If you don't have an organizational account, see options for software access.

  2. On the Organization tab, click Licenses.
  3. Under Applications, for ArcGIS Business Analyst Web and Mobile Apps Advanced, click Manage.
  4. In the list of users, search for your username and assign the license.
  5. Close the Manage window.

Your account is now licensed to use the app.

Create a map

Next, you'll sign in and start using Business Analyst. First, you'll create a map that shows the location of your property and its possible service area in downtown Des Moines, Iowa.

  1. Sign in to Business Analyst.
  2. If you see a Welcome window and are asked to add a profile image, click Skip This Step and click Create Project.

    New project button in the Home tab for Business Analyst Web App


    If you do not see a Welcome window, click the Projects tab and click New project.

    The Create project window appears.

    Projects are all-in-one containers that allow you to organize, manage, and share your maps and data. Once a project is created, you can share and access your information via the app, ArcGIS Online, or Portal for ArcGIS.

    Business Analyst produces reports for business. The data used for these reports is automatically stored within their respective projects, so you don't need to save the data each time. Projects don't store maps; however, any time you open a project, the data is reused to draw a new map.

  3. For Project name, type Des Moines.

    Create project window with Project name set to Des Moines

  4. Click Create.

    A window appears, explaining that a project is being created and that the process may take a few moments. Once the project is created, another window appears for confirmation.

    Des Moines project confirmation window

  5. In the confirmation window, ensure Open new projects as soon as they are created is checked and click OK.

    The project opens. It contains a map, although the map is not centered on Des Moines, Iowa.


    If this is your first project, the step-by-step Guided Tours window may appear. This window explains several workflows that you can complete using Business Analyst. Close this window to continue the tutorial. To reopen it, click your username and choose Guided Tours.

  6. In the search box above the map, type 200 Court Avenue, Des Moines, IA, 50309, USA. Click the address when it appears below the search box.

    Search for address in the search bar

    The map extent changes to Des Moines. A marker with a pop-up indicates the address of your building. You'll add the name of your proposed theater, Brick House Movies, to the pop-up for reference.

  7. In the upper corner, click the Basemaps button and click the Streets basemap.

    Streets basemap

    The map updates to the Streets basemap.

  8. In the pop-up, click Add site name.

    Add site name in the pop-up

  9. Type Brick House Movies and press Enter.

    Next, you'll add a feature that represents the area that your theater will likely serve. You'll define this area based on how long it takes people to drive to your theater.

  10. In the pop-up, click Create site.

    Generally, the movie industry uses a 20-minute drive-time radius to determine a theater's primary trade area. Later, you'll learn about the population and income needed to sustain a new theater.

  11. Click Drive time. For Time, type 20 in the first box and delete the values in the other two boxes.

    Drive time parameters set to 20 minutes in the pop-up

  12. Click Apply.

    Drive Time area on map

    The map extent changes to show the area where it takes 20 minutes or less to drive to your property.

Run a report

Now that you've created a drive-time area, you can run a report on it. This report provides demographic information about an area. The movie industry tends to focus on income and population when selecting a site for a new theater. The recommended minimum thresholds for each demographic category are as follows:

  • Total population: 250,000
  • Median household income: $50,000

Next, you'll run a report called the Recreation Expenditures report. In addition to standard demographic information, such as income and population, the Recreation Expenditures report provides insight into how people spend money on recreational activities, including theater attendance.

  1. In the pop-up, click Reports.

    Reports button in the pop-up for the Brick House Movies site

  2. Click the drop-down menu for Choose a report to run, type in the search bar recreation, and choose Recreation Expenditures.

    Recreation Expenditures under the Standard reports section

  3. Click Run report.

    Run report button in the pop-up

  4. On the Des Moines tab, under Previously run reports, click Recreation Expenditures. (Alternatively, you can open the report from the pop-up.)

    Recreation Expenditures under the Previously run reports section in the project pane

    The Recreational Expenditures report opens as a PDF file. At the top of the report is the Demographic Summary, which includes the demographic information about population and income you need. Information for 2023 is listed alongside projections for 2028 so you can see how demographics may shift over time. In this example, you can see that the area has growth potential over the next five years—a positive sign for your business idea. Based on the information provided, your theater's service area exceeds the recommended values for population and income.


    Demographic data is updated periodically, so the available variables and values may differ from those specified in the tutorial. If necessary, use the most recent data.

    Demographic Summary section in the Recreation Expenditures report

    Under the Demographic Summary section is a list of recreational activities and how much people in this area spend for them. Under the Entertainment/Recreation Fees and Admissions section is the Tickets to Movies category.

    Tickets to Movies row in the Recreation Expenditures report

    Your property's service area has a Spending Potential Index of 100. The Spending Potential Index shows how much consumers in an area spend on something compared to the national average of 100. A value of 103 means that consumers in your area are 3 percentage points higher than the national average when it comes to buying tickets to movies—a sign of good market potential for your theater.

  5. Click the Business Analyst tab to return to the app.

    You've determined that this area may be a good place to support a theater. Next, you'll clear the map before moving to the next part of the workflow.

  6. On the side toolbar of the map, click the Clear map button.

    Clear map button in the side tool panel

    The Clear map window appears.

  7. Check All to select all of the items on the map.

    All checked in the Clear map window

  8. Click Clear.

You've used ArcGIS Business Analyst Web App to determine if the Des Moines area would be a good location for a movie theater. You ran a Recreational Expenditures report about Des Moines to learn key demographic information as well as area recreational spending preferences. Based on what you've seen so far, Des Moines might support your proposed theater.

Conduct a site suitability study

Previously, you ran a report of demographic and recreational expenditure data about your proposed movie theater's trade area in Des Moines, Iowa. Based on that information, it seems as though the greater Des Moines area may be a good fit for a new theater. Before you make a decision, however, you'll conduct more research based on demographic trends. In recent years, Des Moines—like many cities in the American Midwest—has rejuvenated its downtown through a successful urban renewal program. The resulting influx of college students and young professionals into downtown has increased apartment construction and renovation. These apartment dwellers have created a demand for more entertainment options within walking distance.

As part of your research, you want to measure whether this pedestrian population could have a favorable impact on your proposed business. This time, you'll compare the demographic attributes of your theater's area in Des Moines to successful theaters in the American Midwest. Some of these cities have large downtown populations and some don't. By identifying the ones that do, you could discover cities with populations more apt to frequent a downtown theater. Instead of creating a 20-minute drive-time area, you'll use 5-, 10-, and 15-minute walk times to conduct your analysis. (Generally, people are willing to walk up to 15 minutes to reach a destination.)

Create walk-time areas for the theaters

First, you'll download a spreadsheet with locations of the theaters you'll use in the comparison. Then, you'll import the spreadsheet into your project and create walk-time areas of 5, 10, and 15 minutes for each theater.

  1. Download the Uptown Movie Houses spreadsheet to an easily accessible location, such as your desktop. The spreadsheet downloads as read-only, so you will have to save the file with a slight alteration to the file name, such as adding your initials.
  2. If necessary, sign in to Business Analyst and open your Des Moines project.

    If you closed the app and opened it since the previous tutorial, the map extent may have reset. If this is the case, continue with the steps, because the map will reset after you load the spreadsheet.

  3. On the ribbon, click Add data.

    Add data tab

  4. Click Import file.

    Import file in the Add data menu

    The Import file pane appears.

  5. For Select a file to import, click Browse. Browse to and choose the Uptown Movie Houses spreadsheet.

    Browse in the Import file pane

  6. Click Import.
  7. Make sure Point locations is selected and click Next.

    Business Analyst scans the spreadsheet and identifies location fields that can be used to place the lines of data geographically (or geocode) in the spreadsheet. In this case, fields for the street, city, state, and ZIP Code were found. The fields seem to correctly match to columns in the spreadsheet, so you do not need to change anything.

    Pane to confirm fields match columns in the uploaded file


    If the values in the fields and columns are unmatched, you can click the drop-down menu under Columns to identify values approximating to the values under Fields. For example, Postal under Fields would equate to ZIP under Columns.

  8. Click Next.

    The map extent changes to show theater locations in or near Omaha, Kansas City, St. Louis, Milwaukee, Toledo, Detroit, and Indianapolis. The spreadsheet also included a location for your proposed theater, Brick House Movies, in Des Moines.


    Depending on the size of your browser window, you may not be able to see all the theaters. If necessary, pan and zoom until you can see all eight markers on the map.

    Eight theater locations in the American Midwest

    Additionally, the Import file pane changed to provide options for the appearance of the points in this layer.

  9. Click Next.

    The next pane provides two options for saving an imported file:

    • Save only points, the first option, is for displaying points on a map. Use this option when you want to import a layer so you can quickly turn these points on or off.
    • Create and save sites for all points, the second option, is necessary when you want to create rings, walk times, or drive times, around points on a map. This option allows you to run reports, view infographics, and compare locations.

    For this tutorial, you'll choose the second option.

  10. Click Create and save sites for all points (max 1000).

    After selecting this option, you can add drive- or walk-time areas. You want to compare the theaters based on 5-, 10-, and 15-minute walk times. You'll use these three text boxes to create all three walk-time areas at once.

  11. Click Walk time. Accept the default values of 5, 10, and 15 in the three text boxes.

    Walk time parameters in the Import file pane

  12. For New layer name, type Des Moines Suitability Study.
  13. For Choose column for site name, check Open all labels for imported data.

    Open all labels for imported data check box

    The map now displays the name of each theater above its marker. The information displayed depends on the menu above the box that you checked. By default, it was set to Theater Name.

  14. Click Save.

    It may take a moment to create the layer.

  15. If necessary, after the layer is created, pan or zoom out to see all eight points.

    You can pan and zoom the map by dragging the pointer and rotating the mouse wheel, respectively. You can also use the zoom tool on the map.

    At the full zoom extent, you can't see the walk-time areas around each theater.

  16. Zoom to Des Moines and confirm that walk-time areas exist for 5-, 10-, and 15-minute intervals.

    You can zoom the map by searching for the Des Moines location (200 Court Avenue, Des Moines, IA, 50309, USA) using the search box above the map.

    Des Moines walk-time areas

Perform a site suitability analysis

Now that you've created walk-time areas for several theaters around the American Midwest, you'll perform a site suitability analysis. The goal of this analysis will be to determine whether your property is a suitable site for a theater, compared with successful existing theaters in the other seven cities.

  1. On the ribbon, click Run analysis, then click Suitability analysis.

    Suitability analysis button

    The Suitability analysis pane appears with information about performing a suitability analysis.

  2. If necessary, read the information and click Get started.

    The first step is to select the sites you want to use in your analysis.

  3. Click Add sites from project.

    The Add sites window appears.

  4. Close the Add sites window.

    The Suitability analysis pane shows all eight movie houses in the layer checked.

    Sites checked in the Suitability analysis pane

  5. Click Next.

    Next, you'll choose the demographic variables to use in your analysis.

  6. Click Add criteria and choose Add variables from data browser.

    Add variables from data browser

    The Data browser window appears. You'll search for population and income, the two demographic variables that you saw in the Recreation Expenditures report.


    Demographic data is updated periodically, so the available variables and values may differ from those specified in the tutorial. If necessary, use the most recent data.

  7. For Browse by category, click Population.

    Population category under Browse by category

  8. For Popular Variables, check 2023 Total Population (Esri).

    2023 Total Population (Esri) variable

    Each time you enter a variable, the Selected variables value increases. You'll add two more variables before applying them to the layer.

    Selected variables showing one variable selected

  9. In the Data Browser window, click Categories.

    Categories button in the Data browser window

    You return to the list of categories.

  10. For Browse by category, click Income.

    Income category in the Data browser window

  11. For Popular Variables, check 2023 Median Household Income (Esri).
  12. To return to the list, click Categories.

    You now have selected the variables of population and income. You'll add a third variable: Tapestry.

    Tapestry Segmentation classifies neighborhoods in the United States into one of 67 unique segments based on demographics, income, and lifestyle. These segments provide detailed summaries about each neighborhood so you can compare the populations that surround each theater.

    For this tutorial, the Metro Renters segment is particularly relevant to your theater. People in this highly educated segment are young singles and couples working in their first jobs, renting or sharing apartments, and loving city life. They buy movie tickets and bicycle to work. Proximity to Metro Renters may help your business because that population is willing to walk or take cabs.

  13. If necessary, in the list of categories, click the button to move forward in the list.

    Next button to view the next page of categories in the Data browser window

  14. Click Tapestry.

    Tapestry category in the Data browser window

    Unlike the other categories, the Tapestry category does not list any popular variables.

  15. For Other Options, click Show all 'Tapestry' variables.

    Show all 'Tapestry' variables

    This category contains over 150 variables. You can choose to add variables for all Tapestry segments or only those that you choose.

  16. Click the arrow to expand 2023 Tapestry Market Segmentation (Adults). (Don't check the box.)

    2023 Tapestry Market Segmentation (Adults)

  17. Scroll through the list and check 2023 Metro Renters (3B) Tapestry Adult Population (Esri).
  18. Click Apply.

    The Suitability analysis pane adds parameters for each of the criteria you chose.

    Criteria in Suitability analysis pane

    Business Analyst automatically balances variables; in this tutorial, the three you chose for the suitability analysis are weighted at 33 percent each. (The table results are displayed at the bottom of the page.) If necessary, however, you can change the weight to make certain variables more important in the analysis.

    The results table contains scores for each theater based on the criteria you choose for your suitability analysis. By default, the table shows the scores for the 15-minute walk-time area. In this example, given a 15-minute walk time area, Brick House Movies has a final score of 0.51. It is ranked fourth among the theaters.

    Brick House Movies' rank and final score


    You can expand or reduce the results table by dragging the top of the table.

  19. At the top of table, click the arrow next to 15 and choose 10 minutes.

    10-minute walk-time area

    Now all eight rows in the table reflect 10-minute walk times. Brick House Movies is now third with a score of 0.57. Only Reel Brats (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) and Cow Town (Kansas City, Missouri) have higher scores. The rest of the table shows the individual scores each location received for each variable.

    Ranking table for the 10 minute walk time

    Brick House Movies received a low score for population and income but scored relatively high for the presence of the Metro Renters segment. These results indicate that although the overall population in downtown Des Moines is relatively low compared with other cities in the table, the proximity of Metro Renters to Brick House Movies increases its overall score.

    In fact, if you look in the Metro Renters score column (2023 Pop 18+ in Tapestry Seg 3B), you will see that Des Moines, with 0.26, ranks second behind Milwaukee. You can infer from the suitability analysis that the high number of Metro Renters near Brick House Movies offsets advantages of cities with larger populations and higher incomes. Your analysis could also mean you've identified a successful location for an upscale movie house despite downtown Des Moines having a smaller and less affluent population than the other cities included in the analysis.

  20. Change the time to 5 minutes.

    Ranking table for the 5 minute walk time

    Brick House Movies is again second with a score of 0.63. It is second to the Milwaukee theater, which is also adjacent to a large population of Metro Renters. Now, in addition to knowing that your area meets the minimum site selection requirements for a movie theater, you've discovered that your theater location has high suitability compared with several already existing and successful theaters around the American Midwest.

Adjust the criteria

Your suitability analysis allows you to increase or decrease the weight of criteria in regard to the final score. For Des Moines (a city with an extensive skywalk network), you'll adjust the value of the Metro Renters segment criterion to reflect the increased likelihood of residents walking up to 15 minutes to attend your theater. The skywalk system also augments an existing network of bicycle and walking paths already within the city.

  1. In the Suitability analysis pane, for the 2023 Pop 18+ in Tapestry Seg 3B criterion, set the weight to 15 percent.

    Metro Renters weight


    You can adjust the weighting by dragging the slider or by typing directly in the box.

    As you decrease the weight for the Metro Renters segment, the value of the other variables decreases to 43 percent each. The results of your adjustments are automatically reflected in the results table.

  2. In the results table, change the time from 5 minutes to 15 minutes.

    Des Moines now has a score of 0.50, which is slightly lower in percentage points lower than when the variables were weighted equally.

    Ranking table after the variable weight was adjusted

  3. Change the time to 10 minutes.

    Brick House Movies has a score of 0.51 and is ranked fourth.

  4. Change the time to 5 minutes.

    Brick House Movies is ranked second, now with a score of 0.59.

    Assigning weights is based on judgment; determining the perfect weight for a perceived variable is difficult. However, by experimenting with weights, you gain information about the impact—or just as importantly, the lack of impact—of a particular criterion. In your case, you've decided that your property's proximity to a sizeable Metro Renter population is one of your location's demographic advantages.

  5. In the Suitability analysis pane, click Reset weighting to reset the variables.

    Reset weighting

  6. Close the table.

In this tutorial, you researched the feasibility of opening an upscale movie theater in downtown Des Moines. You learned that the area exceeded the minimum thresholds for site selection criteria involving new movie theaters. You also compared your theater's location to several successful theaters throughout the American Midwest based on three criteria. You found that your theater compared favorably to the others, especially when the criteria were weighted toward certain demographics. Based on these exercises, you now have better information about your proposed business venture. Now, you can make a more informed decision about the future of your property.

Although the workflow you followed in this tutorial applies to Des Moines, it would work just as well with any other United States location you choose. The workflow would work the same whether you wanted to start a sports bar in Gainesville, Florida; open a doughnut shop in Springfield, Oregon; or design a golf course in Peoria, Illinois. The difference between Des Moines and those cities would be the data included in your .

Finally, now that you've discovered that an uptown movie theater would work in downtown Des Moines, which genres would you want to show inside Brick House Movies? This movie story map, based on Esri Demographics data, details which types of movies Iowans prefer as well as which communities buy cinema tickets.

You can find more tutorials in the tutorial gallery.