In reflecting upon this past year, two words come to mind – resurgence and renewal. 2010 was a year where Georgetown saw a net gain of businesses, as retail businesses took advantage of the space opportunities afforded by the recession of 2008/2009.
When I came on board in December of 2008, the retail market was well into its downfall. Having witnessed real estate cycles here for the last 30 years, there was no doubt this was as serious as this market has seen. There was high anxiety each time a store shuttered its business. Retail needs the synergy that diversity provides and no one wants to see vacant space, especially on M Street or Wisconsin.
Even though we had stores opening in 2009, there was a net loss of 13 establishments while five others decided to relocate within Georgetown. Roughly one third of all openings/closings happend at the Mall. The property is now in different hands and we must continue to be patient with its repositioning; there is much to do to turn it around.
To put into perspective, we lost nearly ten percent of our stores by the end of 2009—better than the national and regional averages of 28 percent and 21 percent respectively. Georgetown was not alone as the entire retail industry felt the recession's pain; we weathered the period better than most. We believe this supports the strength of Georgetown as the premier shopping district of D.C. If you've got the wherewithal and can make adjustments to what the market is giving you, Georgetown continues to be a good place to do business.
Despite the adversity, there is always opportunity. In many respects store turnover on the avenues has given several retailers a chance to relocate to or open in Georgetown. In all, we tracked 63 space changes. Although closings continued, openings outpaced them and we will net an additional 15 stores in 2010, recouping the store losses of 2009. Moreover, the newcomers maintained our ratio of small business (73 percent) to national/regional retailer (27 percent).
As we turn this corner into 2011, we've got to reiterate the importance of supporting our local businesses. Established businesses, some more than 20 years, have seen local support wane over time. Although there can be any number of reasons, it is still regrettable. We are not out of the woods with this economy. Let's make a concerted effort to shop locally and keep our dollars and sales taxes in our own community. We won't regret it.
Georgetown Business Improvement District Executive Director