As previewed Monday, GM has finally performed his annual census of Georgetown’s shops and restaurants and is ready to present his results.
Before we get to that, a couple of caveats first. When GM uses the word “store”, he is including all retail stores and restaurants, as well as just about any commercial operation that accepts walk-ins. So he includes realtors, but not lawyers. A children’s arts classroom but not the elementary schools. It’s not a scientific distinction, but GM had to draw the line somewhere.
With that said, to the numbers!
There are an overall 496 shops in Georgetown as of February 2013. This continues a steady decline since 2011 when GM counted 527 shops and last year when he tallied 510. Part of this decline can surely be attributed to the recession and anemic recovery, but the bulk of the reduction can be attributed to the mall closing. In 2011 there were nearly 100 shops in the mall, now there is only the Washington Sports Club. In fact, if you set the mall aside completely, Georgetown has been adding more stores than it’s lost over the last couple years.
Looking just at the openings and closing, this dynamic plays out. Overall there were 56 closings and 43 openings. But if you take out the mall from consideration, there were only 43 closings and still 43 openings. Not gangbusters, but enough. (Although, for what it’s worth, there were only 40 non-mall closures in 2011.)
The 43 openings matches exactly the number of openings in 2011. And that is higher than the 2010 number: 22.
On a more troubling note, the vacancy rate increased a good deal last year, even after ignoring the mall. There were 44 non-mall vacancies in 2011, there are 60 right now. It’s worth noting, however, that a bunch of these vacant spaces already have future tenants in place, but most don’t.
Independent vs. Chain
Independent shops still make up the majority of shops in Georgetown (of course, they probably don’t make up the majority floor space, but GM can’t measure that). There are 341 independent shops in Georgetown, or 68.8% of the total. That’s a small tick down from last year when the percentage was 70%. Not to sound like a broken record, but that drop can mostly be attributed to the mall closing.
Another contributor to the declining independent shop numbers is the fact that of the new stores, more were chains than independents. Specifically, 55% of the stores that opened last year were chain stores. In 2011 that number was 42%. In other words, not only are independent shops not opening up enough to replenish their current numbers, they aren’t opening enough to remain the majority.
The store variety in Georgetown is about what it was in previous years:
When you look at particular categories, a couple things jump out at you. First, there are 15 fewer restaurants now than from a year ago. That’s a 12% drop. Also, surprisingly enough there are actually 7 fewer clothing stores now than last year.
Where’s the growth? In salons. Jesus Christ there are a lot of salons in Georgetown. There are now 46 different salons (i.e. hairdressers, nail salons, and even hair driers.) open. Last year there were 38. Another growth area is yoga. There was just one yoga shop last year, now there’s four.
In a lot of ways, 2012 was another rough year for Georgetown. If you had to give it a theme it would be “lost opportunities”. No opportunity seems quite as lost as the mall itself. With mediocre offerings on deck, not many are happy with what it is about to become. Besides the mall, some other disappointments include the fact that two prime restaurant spaces are soon to be taken over by yet another set of clothing stores (Papa Razzi and Unos).
And speaking of restaurants, 2012 was particularly hard on them. But hopefully that will be the dark just before the dawn. 2013 is already shaping up to be a good year for dining in Georgetown. The long awaited Malmaison should open soon. And its immediate neighbor Gypsy Sally’s should also be open this year. At the new Capella Hotel two new fancy restaurants are planning to be opened. The newly christened Graham Hotel (the old Monticello) will feature a roof top deck. And hopefully the great Citronelle will return this year.
Here’s to a brighter 2013.
7 responses to “The State of Georgetown 2013”
In addition to the restaurants you mention, Fiola Mare is likely to make a big entrance on the scene. Additionally, while far from fine dining, the openings of Good Stuff Eatery and Shophouse will undoubtedly draw customers, even if the latter is more lamented for not being Furin’s.
I am still hopeful that spaces like Mie’n’Yu and the Guards wind up with good-to-great restaurants, rather than more chain restaurants (or men’s clothing boutiques).
Also, a topic suggestion for a future post. With the closings of several restaurants, what is the current inventory (and the going rate on the secondary market) of unused liquor licenses in the Georgetown moratorium zone?
Is another lost opportunity the poor transit access to the area? I wonder if the people who vehemently opposed a station in Georgetown are regretting their (now short-sighted) decision all those years ago.
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