Chestnut and Walnut Street retail visits drop precipitously in Philadelphia during COVID-19 pandemic

During initial lockdown measures, retail visits nearly evaporated at notable Chestnut and Walnut St retailers

December 07, 2020
% Above/below November 2019 foot traffic
  • In an analysis of the estimated number of visitors using anonymized mobile movement data provided by, retailers such as Lululemon, Nordstrom Rack, Apple, and Continental Midtown experienced an unprecedented decrease in the number of visitors due to lockdown measures enforced to curtail the spread of COVID-19.

  • Against a November 2019 baseline, strict lockdown measures beginning at the end of March and expiring in May/June led to retailers suffering decreases ranging from 93.1% to 98.8% in the total estimated number of visitors.

  • Only one retailer analyzed, Lululemon, has been able to achieve store visitors that exceed pre-COVID estimates. Nordstrom Rack, Apple, and Continental Midtown are attracting an estimated 30.5%, 52.5%, and 39.4% visitors, respectively, relative to pre-COVID levels.

  • Consumer shifts to athleisure gear and high-end athletic apparel during the pandemic have helped Lululemon immensely. Additionally, gym closures and Lulu’s acquisition of Mirror served to further enhance their bottom-line. Likewise, during the strictest lockdown measures, Apple managed to sell the most iPhones ever in Q2 2020, increasing 10.0% YoY.

  • Lululemon and Apple have each recorded positive year-to-date financial performance with shares appreciating 144.1% and 47.6% respectively. Nordstrom, Inc has been less fortunate with shares falling 12.7% year-to-date. Clothing stores and full-service restaurants like Nordstrom and Continental Midtown have not faired as well. Total spending in their respective categories have fallen 34.4% and 41.1% YoY according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. These financial metrics are a byproduct of the shifts in consumer demand during the pandemic.

  • It’s not all doom and gloom. Challenges are typically ripe with opportunities. Accepting that e-commerce is here to stay (and grow), tenants, landlords, and investors in commercial retail space will need to reevaluate their operating models to generate new sources of revenue. Closures of existing retailers will be replaced by new, exciting brands, like Allbirds’ opening along Walnut Street.