2021 in Review: Center City retail struggles while grocery-anchored centers continue to thrive

Philadelphia, wistful for pre-pandemic life, began to embrace its current state of affairs last December by adapting with streeteries for outdoor dining and repairing and reopening shops that had been vandalized during civil unrest sparked by the murder of George Floyd.

In the year since the residential population and the return of college students helped buoy retail and restaurant activity but has been unable to compensate for the continued absence of office workers that populated Center City before the pandemic. Philadelphia, like other cities, is finding it still needs office workers for its retail corridors to recover and thrive. It remains unknown when that will happen as Covid-19 and its variants remain circulating and companies push off having employees return to offices.

In October 2021, the city saw an average of 309,600 pedestrians a day, which is 75% of January 2020 levels and the highest volume in 20 months, according to Center City District’s most recent retail report. In contrast, on West Market Street and John F. Kennedy Boulevard, the main corridors comprising the Central Business District, pedestrian activity languished at 26% of pre-pandemic levels with 84,000 office workers still absent from the city each day, CCD data show. 

*Article courtesy of Philadelphia Business Journal 

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