DC retail rebounds, with openings outnumbering closings 2-to-1 since 2022

Since 2022, 259 retailers have opened in the District while 118 have closed, according to a report by real estate firm JLL. (Courtesy Kraken Courts)

The pandemic ravaged retail businesses in the District, especially bars and restaurants. However, the retail category in general, including the hospitality sector, has shown strong signs of recovery in the past year, according to a report by real estate firm JLL.

Since 2022, 259 retailers have opened in the District, while 118 have closed, according to its report. Retail sales in D.C. have recovered faster than the national average, with monthly sales up 7% from a year ago, compared to a 5% gain nationally.

While hospitality was hardest hit during the pandemic, the JLL report said 74% of new retailers opened in D.C. in the past year were bars and restaurants.

By submarket, Georgetown has seen the biggest net gain in retail business. In the past year, 59 retailers have opened in Georgetown and only four have closed. JLL said 13 more Georgetown businesses are opening soon, and it said the Georgetown retail submarket is now almost fully leased.

Of the 20 apparel and accessory retailers that opened in D.C. since 2022, 16 of them were in Georgetown.

According to the report, the composition of retail stores in D.C. is shifting to include more smaller-format stores and clicks-to-bricks retailers.

There have also been several new entertainment venues that have opened in D.C. that are considered “experiential,” such as indoor pickleball and roller skating rink Kraken Courts, indoor miniature golf courses with bars and restaurants, esports venues such as District-E, and several pop-ups that have filled vacant retail space.

Here are openings and closings by D.C. submarket, according to JLL:

In the past year-and-a-half, Georgetown has seen the most retail growth of any submarket in D.C. (Courtesy JLL Research, 2023)

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Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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