Latest Center City Philadelphia retail report released

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — With the start of the holiday shopping season, the Center City District released its latest Retail Report showing an ongoing recovery process.

The new CCD retail report states that Center City will post positive net openings for the second year in a row.

“It’s slow going and more and more parts of the city are opening up,” said Paul Parker of Bala Cynwyd.

“A lot of businesses were open and a lot of people even had the opportunity to get jobs — those who couldn’t even get jobs before the pandemic,” Olney’s Tiana Williams said.

Wawa and Starbucks closed Center City locations this year over safety concerns

“I think there’s this widespread public perception that downtown retail isn’t doing well,” said Prema Katari Gupta, vice president of Center City District.

“We’ve surveyed every single retail block, every storefront in Center City, and we’ve also had a lot of interviews with developers and retail brokers, and the story we’ve drawn from all of that research is something much more positive,” Gupta said.

According to the report, more than 175 new retail, restaurant and service-oriented businesses have opened since 2020, and at least 47 more are soon to join, replacing some of the closed stores.

“Whether it’s Gap, Ann Taylor or Brooks Brothers these are companies that are shrinking their retail presence nationwide so this isn’t really about Philadelphia and they’re being replaced very quickly by these digitally native brands. Honestly my teenager knows more about them than I do” , added Gupta.

According to the report, 80.5% of storefronts in the Center City District are open for business, up from 54.5% in June 2020 and nearing occupancy as of fall 2019.

Some retailers have switched to larger spaces.

“I think what we’re seeing coming out of the pandemic is people really crave experiences,” Gupta continued.

Gupta explained that the growing residential population in downtown Philadelphia has contributed to foot traffic and visitors are returning. However, she noted that the backward population is clerical workers — still about 50% on any given day compared to 2019.

Some wonder if brick-and-mortar stores can compete with online sales.

“I think we’ve moved into a world of online shopping and things like Amazon. Black Friday deals on our phone will always be tastier and easier to buy than walking across town,” said Kunal Shah of Rittenhouse Square.

The full report can be found here.

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