The pandemic and stay-at-home directives from the City and State significantly reduced the numbers of people who come into Center City Philadelphia each day for work, school, medical appointments, leisure and entertainment. Most downtown residents remained. However, the absence of others significantly eroded the customer base for the 2,000 retail, restaurant and service businesses that occupy the ground floor of commercial and residential buildings and the indoor shopping centers within the Center City District.
At the center of the region’s highway and transit system, Center City is the most concentrated employment node in the region, hosting 42% of Philadelphia’s jobs, creating opportunity for residents of all city neighborhoods and surrounding counties. Center City’s 315,000 workers, 86,000 households and 3.5 million overnight visitors concentrated between 400,000 and 500,000 people downtown each day, generating $2.8 billion in retail, food and beverage demand in 2019.
With office workers and non-essential health-care professionals working from home, schools, colleges, theaters and cultural institutions closed, hotels emptied of guests, transit ridership, vehicular traffic and pedestrian volumes temporarily plummeted between March and April. Pedestrian volumes slowly increased in the fall of 2020.
As soon as more office workers and non-essential health care workers come back to their desks, as soon as hotels begin to fill up, arts and cultural institutions are fully open, and city and regional shoppers and tourists return, the restaurant and retail economy will rebound.
To read the full report, download- Ready for the Return of Customers: Center City Restaurants and Retail.