Feb 24, 2021 - News
COVID is still dealing a blow to Denver's malls

Foot traffic at two major Denver retail hubs is still struggling to rebound to pre-coronavirus averages.

Why it matters: One measure of Colorado's economic recovery is the health of the retail sector, which is particularly key for employment.

By the numbers: Cherry Creek Shopping Center and the 16th Street Mall experienced holiday boosts but visits remain down even as COVID-19 rates fall, per an analysis of cell phone data that Orbital Insight conducted for Axios.

  • Cherry Creek is faring better, but still saw an average 38% drop in foot traffic for 2020. So far in 2021, it's a 29% decrease.
  • The outdoor 16th Street downtown lost an average of 49% of its typical visitors in 2020. It's down a deeper 65% in 2021 — not surprising, given the weather.

What they're saying: Cherry Creek general manager Jeramy Burkinshaw said he's "pleased with the momentum ... in spite of current conditions."

  • Tami Door, CEO and president of the Downtown Denver Partnership, pinned 16th Street's downturn on public health restrictions. Once they lift, "you are going to see that [foot traffic] return," she told Axios.

The bottom line: The pandemic has driven consumers online, supercharging a trend that was already underway.

  • Retail sales in Colorado are actually above pre-pandemic levels, according to a December economic forecast, but that increase is driven by online sales, which were 20% higher in 2020 compared to 2019.

This story first appeared in the Axios Denver newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.

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