Press release

$1 Billion in Demand for Downtown Retail Fuels Dramatic Expansion

Linda K. Harris

PHILADELPHIA (December 7, 2015) – More than 183,000 residents, 294,000 workers, 3.1 million occupied hotel room nights and 116,000 college students in or immediately adjacent to Philadelphia’s downtown contribute to Center City’s 24-hour vibrancy and generate more than $1 billion in retail demand, according to a new report released today by the Center City District and Central Philadelphia Development Corporation.

With 76% of the people residing in the core of Center City holding at least a bachelor’s degree and household incomes averaging more than $107,000, Center City’s expanding affluent and highly educated populous has attracted more than 33 national retailers since 2013. These new popular brands augment the strong base of local boutiques and independents that make up 78% of Center City’s tenant mix.

The number of downtown residents has increased 16% since 2000, and millennials entering their peak consumer-spending years represent 40% of this population, due to the fastest growth of America’s 10 largest cities for this demographic. Empty-nesters migrating from the suburbs have contributed to the elevated household incomes.

As Center City’s purchasing power continues to increase, so does the demand in Center City’s 1,017 retailers, including 226 apparel stores, 159 jewelry stores, 137 food and drink retailers, and 117 home and garden establishments. Center City’s 956 food establishments include 440 full-service restaurants and 309 takeout establishments.

Retail rents in Center City have increased more than most peer cities, rising faster than all but Miami, the report noted. Center City’s density, diversity and accessibility create opportunities for retailers seeking to capitalize on changing preferences that are now favoring urban cores in America. Currently, local and national developers are investing $6.7 billion in major projects that are underway or planned for completion within the downtown by 2018. More than 2.3 million square feet are dedicated to retail as older shopping streets are being redeveloped and Philadelphia’s prime retail district, formerly centered on Walnut Street, continues to expand to West Chestnut and east of Broad to Market Street.


The Center City District, a private-sector organization dedicated to making Center City Philadelphia clean, safe and attractive, is committed to maintaining Center City’s competitive edge as a regional employment center, a quality place to live, and a premier regional destination for dining, shopping and cultural attractions. Find Center City District at and on Facebook and Twitter.