Seattle saw some good news and some mediocre economic news this year. On the plus side, 83,000 workers were in their downtown offices in September, a 21% increase from the same time in 2022.
Visitors also provided some positive news as their numbers—2.5 million—reached 92% of pre-pandemic levels. Even better, hotel demand exceeded 2019 levels.
Despite these promising numbers, the pandemic-triggered decline in downtown Seattle retail is showing no signs of reversal. Retail space occupancy has dropped by 10% since the arrival of Covid. Even worse, new retail licenses downtown are being issued at a rate about 50% below 2019 levels. Total foot traffic downtown is off by 20%, and the average trip is more than an hour shorter than in 2019.
One final bit of good news. The Seattle International Film Festival acquired the former Cinerama movie theater from the estate of Paul Allen. The newly-named SIFF Downtown will reopen on December 14. And, yes, the chocolate popcorn is back!