2019 Fall Retail Storefront Photography by Matt Stanley


Center City Philadelphia Retail 2021

March 2022 Update:  In February 2022, CCD updated its survey of ground floor businesses. The full 2-page report, featuring a map of the locations of new business openings, can be downloaded here: Retail Market Update. 

Center City Philadelphia Retail 2021

Center City’s retailers, restaurants and street-level service business are rebounding from the pandemic, supported by the third-largest downtown residential population in the U.S. and by returning volumes of city and regional shoppers, college students, tourists and convention attendees and a steadily rising number of office workers.

A new Center City District/Central Philadelphia Development Corporation (CCD/CPDC) report, Center City Philadelphia Retail, documents the sustained process of recovery throughout 2021 as vaccination rates have climbed, pedestrian volumes have been restored and business that rely on face-to-face customer interaction are rebounding from the global disruptions from 2020.  

Among the report’s key findings:

  • Center City’s growing residential population, the third largest in the U.S., has provided a stable and loyal customer base for retail and restaurants when the usual numbers of office workers and visitors were reduced.
  • While the pandemic significantly impacted downtown businesses, retail and restaurant demand in 2021 is estimated at $1.1 billion in core Center City and over $2 billion in Greater Center City.
  • Millennials and Gen Z customers are the largest age cohorts living in Center City. Their numbers are augmented by 13 higher education institutions within the downtown and by a large cohort of empty-nesters.
  • From March 2020 to fall 2021, 67 retailers and restaurants opened in Center City, including 24 national brands. At least 34 more will be opening by spring 2022.

“Since Labor Day, downtown office workers have been steadily returning, albeit slower than expected due to the Delta variant and the disruption to childcare and school schedules. While it is too soon to predict how many office workers will ultimately return, Center City has rebounded from multiple challenges in the last half-century: the loss of population to the suburbs in the 1970s and 1980s; a municipal fiscal crisis at the beginning of the 1990s that created concerns about cleanliness and safety and prompted the creation of the Center City District; and two economic downturns since the turn of the century. Each time, downtown leaders have found ways to capitalize on the city's core assets and add new amenities, attractions and employment alternatives, while reinforcing and upgrading our transportation systems,” CCD President Paul R. Levy said.

For an in-depth analysis of trends along with detailed charts and graphs tracking the current recovery download the full 28-page report at - Center City Philadelphia Retail 2021.

In the News

November 28, 2021 | Center City reports signs of economic recovery, KYW Newsradio
November 2021 | Philadelphia Retail Adapts, Challenged by COVID, Philadelphia continues to attract new retail tenants to Center City, Shopping Center Business
November/December 2021 | Center City CEO Talks Pandemic Progress, Northeast Real Estate Business