The State of Georgetown 2019

As discussed last week, GM finally performed his annual(ish) census of all the stores, shops, restaurants, etc. of Georgetown. Today he will report on the bulk of the results.

Before going further, GM should insert his typical caveat. First, it’s important to know that it’s more of an art than a science. The term “shop” as used here refers to just about all commercial establishments: retail stores, restaurants, salons, gyms, etc. GM doesn’t count pure office space. The rule of thumb GM uses is if you can walk in without an appointment, it’s a shop. But again, sometimes it’s a close call. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

GM also has no capability to measure square footage or annual sales, etc. Check out the BID’s 2016 report for that sort of detail. This is more a pure head count.

That said, here we go:

Overall Picture:

This year, GM counted 509 shops in Georgetown. That’s the exact same number GM counted last year. Looking back through the eleven years GM has done this survey, the numbers have always stayed pretty stable, even through tougher times. Here are the totals:

  • Dec. 2008: 348 (this number is so low because GM started the survey by limiting it to just Wisconsin and M St.)
  • Jan. 2010: 443 (GM expanded his survey area this year, but he still missed a bunch)
  • Jan. 2011: 527  (this was the first year GM really surveyed the entire neighborhood, although just about every year he finds one or two that he had previously overlooked)
  • Feb. 2012: 510
  • Mar. 2013: 496
  • Mar. 2014: 508
  • Jul. 2015: 506
  • Apr. 2016: 498
  • Jul. 2017: 512
  • Oct. 2018: 509

For the first couple years, the numbers don’t really reflect the true picture since GM wasn’t capturing all the stores. But once he got to 2011, the entire neighborhood was surveyed. And ever since the total numbers have hovered around 500.

Chains vs. Independents

The whole reason GM originally started this survey was to push back against the oft repeated opinion that Georgetown was full of chain stores. While they certainly occupy the most visible storefronts, as a matter of pure numbers, chains always trail independents by quite a bit. This year is no different. There are 331 independent shops in Georgetown and 178 chains. That’s 65% independent. That’s pretty much the same number GM has found every year, at least since the mall closed, which took out a bunch of independent shops. Before that happened, the independent percentage was closer to 70%.

Of course, this doesn’t measure square footage or prominence or whatever. So it’s fair to get the feeling that Georgetown is only chains, but as a matter of head count, it definitely isn’t.

Store Variety

Here’s how store variety breaks out for this year:

This is pretty much identical to all the previous years. Restaurants and clothing stores dominate, with salons and interior decorating stores following closely behind.

As GM says every year, living in Georgetown, you’re always steps away from over 500 restaurants, stores, salons, markets, etc. Sometimes it’s easy to forget just how many and how diverse the offerings are. Hopefully this is a good reminder.


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