Center City retailers, restaurants, and commercial property owners have responded to a series of challenges in the last three years with creativity and resilience. Office workers have been gradually returning, at just over 50% of pre-pandemic levels in October, with hybrid work patterns somewhat limiting their recurring purchases downtown for the time being. However, the return of conventions, tourism and the reopening of all cultural institutions, the attraction of shoppers from across the city and region and the continuing growth of Philadelphia’s downtown residential population have combined to drive two consecutive years of positive net openings of restaurants and retailers within the district.
1. For two decades Philadelphia has steadily diversified downtown land use creating a broad retail customer base that includes workers, tourists, regional customers and a downtown population that is the third largest in the U.S.
2. In October 2022, daily pedestrian foot traffic achieved three-quarters of prepandemic levels. The volume of visitors and shoppers reached 73% of the October 2019 level, while residents were at 119% and non-resident workers had returned to 50% of the October 2019 level. These combined to generate retail and restaurant demand in 2022 at an annual estimated $1.3 billion in core Center City and $2.3 billion in Greater Center City.
3. 80.5% of storefronts within the Center City District are open for business, up from 54.5% in June 2020. 2022 is well on pace to be the second consecutive year of positive net openings in Center City Philadelphia.
4. Many national chain retailers closed stores across the country due to trends accelerated by the pandemic. While this contributed to vacancy in Center City, many of these spaces have been quickly backfilled by emergent digitally native brands.
5. Taxable retail sales for the third quarter of 2022 in core Center City are at 88% of nominal 2019 levels; bars and restaurants are at 87% of nominal 2019 levels.
For more details, including a map with locations of new and upcoming business openings, download Center City Philadelphia Retail, November 2022.
November 28, 2022 | Foot traffic near offices more than doubled since January, The Philadelphia Inquirer
November 27, 2022 | Center City District releases November 2022 retail report, Philly Voice
November 26, 2022 | Center City business district promotes unique and boutique holiday shopping experience, WHYY
November 25, 2022 | ‘It’s an experience, not a transaction’: Despite closures, Center City retail rebounds closer to pre-pandemic levels, Plan Philly
November 23, 2022 | Center City retail scene on the upswing, new report finds, Metro Philadelphia
November 23, 2022 | Positive signs in latest Center City retail report released, 6abc
November 23, 2022 | Only half of Center City office workers have returned, slowing recovery for restaurants and retailers, Philadelphia Business Journal