Philadelphia’s Center City District sees continued growth as businesses approach pre-pandemic levels

PHILDELPHIA (WPVI) — Officials in Philadelphia’s Center City District say growth in the neighborhood is approaching 2019 levels. This, as Philadelphia ranks fourth in the country in the average daily number of pedestrians downtown — behind New York City, Chicago and Boston.

Those average daily numbers are considered a big deal for places like the Christmas Village at Love Park, which is filled with small businesses that are open every day through Christmas Eve.

“A lot of small businesses don’t necessarily have brick-and-mortar retail stores, so events like this are a significant source of their income,” said John Oleski, owner of Kylie’s Canine Treats.

The CCD annual retail report is filled with promising signs of continued growth.

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Action News has been going through some of the new data and found that foot traffic in the heart of Center City reached 83% of 2019 levels, while residents reached 126%.

That’s seen as a huge deal for the recovery of the neighborhood after the pandemic.

The report also shows that more people are shopping, pedestrian volumes are up and jobs are continuing to rise.

The return of major downtown employers like Comcast, which now has employees back in the office four days a week, is giving the West Market office district a boost.

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The total 2023 pedestrian volumes in the West Market office district is 18% higher than last year.

Officials said small businesses are reaping the benefits of the return of office workers.

Those employees grab coffee and breakfast in the morning, then go to lunch and sometimes even happy hour after work in Center City.

The city experienced a lot of closures during the pandemic but that is apparently being outpaced by growth.

The annual report also shows that Center City is very close to having the same number of businesses it did in 2019. CCD officials are reporting that 80 new businesses have opened so far this year, with 28 more on the way.

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