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Retail Foot Traffic Trends: The Region’s Busiest Streets

Dochter & Alexander Retail Advisors has been tracking the pedestrian flow of DC’s major shopping and restaurant streets. Retail can’t survive without customers, so  the team has been diligently monitoring and analyzing pedestrian patterns 24/7 over the past 12 months. It distills its findings for clients, helping retailers and landlords understand how they perform against the rest of the market. 


The data can also be used as a selling point for landlords marketing spaces, attempting to attract the ideal tenant. Dochter & Alexander has collected pedestrian counts across more than a dozen retail corridors in the region. Seventh Street at Gallery Place, 14th Street at Columbia Heights, and M Street in Georgetown are the three busiest streets with the highest pedestrian counts, according to their recent study.

Streets With The Highest Pedestrian Counts

Along 14th Street in Columbia Heights, which houses retailers like Target, Bed Bath & Beyond and Best Buy, pedestrian volumes were consistent across all seven days of the week.

“It’s the densest residential neighborhood in DC with a population density over 85,000/square mile and residents who make, on average, over $98k/year. It’s not surprising the pedestrian counts are on par with Georgetown and Galley Place,” Dave Dochter says. “The branding opportunity that exists with frontage on these busy high streets combined with the inflow of customers is part of the strategy of choosing a location for a flagship store."


Pinpointing Foot Traffic Activity

The pedestrian study compared streets and assigned hard numbers to the spikes in foot traffic.

Retail is experience-driven and most shoppers and diners want to be somewhere that is active and vibrant,” Matt Alexander says. Seventh Street topped all streets on the weekend with a mix of residents, tourists and event-goers. With the addition of Anthem Row and the Advisory Board HQ, the street will only get busier. 

In Georgetown, M Street had about twice as many people shopping on Saturday than the average weekday, with half of the day’s foot traffic between 1 and 6pm on Saturday. To the east, apparel-heavy F Street registered 1.61 times more foot traffic on the Metro entrance side of the street. New takeaways will arrive in Dochter & Alexander’s Q2 retail market report later this month. (Register here to receive a free copy.)


Making Measured Decisions

Foot traffic trends can also designate weaknesses that must be addressed when positioning new retail or formulating merchandising strategies.

For example, Barracks Row had roughly half as many pedestrians on Monday as Saturday. Comprehending the significance of such pedestrian patterns can aid sales projections, staffing needs and development of a sustainable tenant mix. 

“The industry standard used to be to simply look at vehicular traffic volumes and Metro counts to make decisions,” Dave says. “The more data that landlords and retailers have, the better their decisions. We provide that granular data, like pedestrian counts and sales volumes to help make better decisions."

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