As mentioned last week, GM has pulled together his annual census of Georgetown stores, which he likes to call the State of Georgetown. This year was a little different since he cooperated with the BID in pulling the survey together. They will likely produce their own report in due time (last year’s was beautiful) but GM decided to continue doing his own for a couple reasons. For one, it’s just a fun project. But more importantly, not all shops and restaurants in GM’s survey are in the BID zone. For instance, any neighborhood shop like Scheele’s isn’t covered by the BID. Also, the BID zone doesn’t go all the way up past Book Hill.
So here without further ado is GM’s State of Georgetown 2014:
GM counted 508 stores and restaurants in Georgetown this year. Now before we go any further, it’s important to note that GM uses the phrase “stores and restaurants” to mean just about any shop, restaurant, store, ice cream shop, etc. About the only commercial spaces that GM doesn’t count are straight forward offices and schools.
That 508 compares with 496 from last year. You would initially conclude that that meant there was a net gain of 12 stores over last year. However, every year GM seems to uncover one or two shops he overlooked in years past. And that explains why GM only counted a true nine store net gain from 2013 to 2014:
- Shops and Restaurants Opened since Feb 2013: 42
- Shops and Restaurants Closed since Feb 2013: 33
- Net Gain: 9
- Shops that moved within Georgetown: 4
As GM mentioned last week, this is a big turnaround from prior years. There was a net loss of 13 shops and restaurants last year. There was a giant net loss of 35 shops two years ago. So this is definitely a lot better.
We’ve seen a steady growth out of the recession, but even at 508 we’re still below the peak number GM counted in February 2011 of 527 (and there were probably more than 527 stores open at that date, since GM knows that he missed some back then). The explanation for why we’re still below that peak is obviously the loss of the mall. At one point it contained over 90 shops. Even after it’s full renovated and open, the new mall will have fewer than a dozen establishments.
Chains vs. Independents
The primary reason GM first started his census was to rebut the commonly held notion that Georgetown is full of chains. So he classifies each establishment as either independent or chain.
As of February 2014, there are 339 (67%) independent establishments in Georgetown, and 169 (33%) chains. So it remains the case that the clear majority of shops and restaurants in Georgetown remain independent. That’s a slight tick down for independent shops, since last year they were at 341 (68%). But it’s in line with the long term rates and appears to be holding steady.
Sure, within a block of two of Wisconsin and M the percentage of independent shops is far lower. But the independent Georgetown shops are still quite numerous around the neighborhood.
This is probably GM’s favorite part of the survey. Here is a pie graph of Georgetown (you may have to click on it to open it separately to see the labels):
Restaurants and clothing stores still dominate the numbers, adding up to 50% of all establishments. Interior stores (i.e. furniture and home goods stores) add another 9% and hair and nail salons round out the big categories with another 8%.
This chart reflects the continued variety of retail in Georgetown. If anything, it understates it. Sure, we’ve lost a lot of shops over the years that added true variety (such as Cannon’s, which closed this year). But we’re still gaining shops that offer different sorts of variety, like Pinstripe’s bowling alley, Gypsy Sally’s night club, or Hill and Dale vinyl record shop.
In summary, despite gloom and doom from some quarters (including GM himself) the Georgetown commercial district is healthy and has bounced back mostly (if not fully) from the recession.