The Washington, DC is the economic engine of a metropolitan region with a population of more than six million residents.
DC’s daytime population swells to more than one million, has one of the highest educated workforces in the country, and is a top destination for international travelers.
The retail scene of Washington, DC has become a national and international destination. The city’s diverse mix ranges from boutique storefronts lined along cobblestone walkways in historic Georgetown, higher-end retailers in the center of Downtown DC, and online stores showcasing their products in trendy brick-and-mortar shops in Shaw.
DC’s retail market is expected to remain strong as the metropolitan area’s economy is expected to grow by an average of 34,000 jobs per year for the next five years (Dr. Stephen Fuller, IHS Markit). In addition, it is estimated that DC will experience roughly double the nation’s percentage growth in food and beverage spending in the next five years (CBRE FastReport).
Top brands such as REI, Apple, Amazon, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, SoulCycle, Warby Parker, Nordstroms Rack, among dozens of others have chosen to expand in DC. And, local chains such as Cava Grill ($98.9 million), SweetGreen ($126.5 million), Matchbox ($35.3 million), and &Pizza ($40.5 million) have recently received private investments to expand their concepts.
DC saw $13.9 billion of taxable retail & restaurant sales in 2016.
Source: DC Office of the Chief Financial Officer
2X Building Permits
Residential building permits are being issued at twice the rate as the previous decade in DC.
Source: U.S. Census, Building Permits Survey
38 Grocery Stores
38 new or modernized grocery stores have opened in DC since 2000 with 8 more in the pipeline as of September 2017.
Source: WDCEP Research
Why Retail & Restaurants Choose DC
Diverse Customer Base
The District of Columbia offers an increasing residential base (681,170 – a 13% increase from 2010) and a solid daytime population of more than one million people. As an international market DC attracts an additional 22 million visitors who spend $7.3 billion. Situated in the center of the nation’s fourth-largest metropolitan region, DC offers the prime location to tap into more than 6 million people whose median household income is in excess of $95,000.
Growing Food and Beverage Market
The growing restaurant scene has earned DC its first Michelin Guide with 14 restaurants earning Michelin stars along with being named “Restaurant City of the Year” by Bon Appetit in 2016. DC’s homegrown restaurateurs have also received national recognition. Aaron Silverman’s Rose’s Luxury was awarded best new restaurant by Bon Appetit in 2014 and his Pineapple & Pearls restaurant along with Himitsu and Timber Pizza Co. made Bon Appetit’s 2017 best new restaurant list. Internationally recognized chef, Jose Andres received Outstanding Chef honors from the James Beard Foundation in 2011.
Additionally, Maketto (H Street, NE) was listed by GQ as one of The Best Denim & Casual Shops in America in 2015 and Blue Mercury was acquired by Macy’s in 2015 at a value of $210 million (Pitchbook).
With an estimated $13.9 billion in taxable retail and restaurant sales in 2016 it is clear that retailers and shoppers alike have a renewed confidence in DC as a retail hot spot.
Booming Market for Retailers & Grocery Stores
National chains such as Apple, Best Buy and Target have recognized the spending power of DC’s residents and local retailers such as Bus Boys & Poets, Georgetown Cupcake and Ben’s Chili Bowl have become icons in their respective neighborhoods. New grocery stores continue to open on a yearly basis and existing stores are being modernized. Since 2000, 38 new or modernized grocery stores have opened in DC.
Resources for Retail & Real Estate:
Sector Spotlight: DC’s Grocery Store Growth
Grocery stores are economic and social hubs that can transform neighborhoods. Many of DC’s neighborhoods have been revitalized by new grocery stores, most notably Logan Circle with the arrival of Whole Foods at 14th & P Streets in 2000. Qualified grocery stores can also take advantage of incentives via the Supermarket Tax Exemption Act of 2000. For more information please download the Supermarket Tax Incentive summary.
|Whole Foods Market||1440 P Street, NW||42,000||2000|
|Giant||1050 Brentwood Road, NE||54,000||2002|
|Giant (1)||1345 Park Road, NW||53,000||2005|
|Trader Joes||1101 25th Street, NW||11,800||2006|
|Yes! Organics||3809 12th Street, NE||7,200||2006|
|Giant||1535 Alabama Avenue, SE||66,000||2007|
|Harris Teeter||1391 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE||47,000||2008|
|Harris Teeter||1631 Kalorama Road, NW||37,000||2008|
|Safeway||490 L Street, NW||59,000||2008|
|Yes! Organics||4100 Georgia Avenue, NW||11,000||2008|
|Yes! Organics||2123 14th Street, NW||6,000||2008|
|Safeway (1)||1855 Wisconsin Avenue, NW||71,000||2010|
|Safeway (1)||401 M Street, SW||55,000||2010|
|Harris Teeter||1st & M Streets, NE||50,000||2010|
|Fairlawn Market (3)||2323 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE||7,500||2010|
|Whole Foods||22nd & I Streets, NW||37,000||2011|
|Aldi||901 17th Street, NE||17,900||2011|
|Yes! Organics (1)||410 8th Street, SE||4,115||2012|
|Costco||New York & South Dakota Avenue, NE||154,000||4Q 2012|
|Sav-A-Lot||680 Rhode Island Avenue, NE||2013|
|Glens Garden Market||2001 S Street, NW||8,400||2Q 2013|
|Giant||3rd & H Streets, NE||41,200||2013|
|Giant (1)||7th & O Streets, NW||75,000||4Q 2013|
|Walmart||1st & H Streets, NW||76,000||4Q 2013|
|Walmart||5929 Georgia Avenue, NW||106,000||4Q 2013|
|Trader Joe's||14th & U Streets, NW||15,100||Q1 2014|
|Safeway (1)||3830 Georgia Avenue, NW||62,000||Q2 2014|
|Streets Market and Cafe||2400 14th Street, NW||9,000||Q2 2014|
|Harris Teeter||1212 4th Street, SE||50,000||Q4 2014|
|Giant (1)||3336 Wisconsin Avenue, NW||56,000||Q4 2014|
|MOM's||1501 New York Avenue, NE||16,000||Q4 2014|
|Good Food Markets||2006 Rhode Island Ave., NE||1,000||Q1 2015|
|Union Kitchen Grocery||538 3rd Street, NE||1,000||Q3 2015|
|Glens Garden Market (4)||1924 8th Street, NW||4,800||Q4 2015|
|Walmart||South Dakota Avenue & Riggs Road, NE||120,000||Q4 2015|
|Whole Foods||600 block of H Street, NE||39,000||Q1 2017|
|Union Kitchen Grocery||801 Mount Vernon Place, NW||2,200||Q1 2017|
|Streets Market and Cafe||1221 Massachusetts Avenue NW||Q3 2017|
|Trader Joe's||700 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE||11,000||Q3 2017|
|Trader Joe's||340 Florida Avenue, NE||15,000||Q1 2018|
|Streets Market and Cafe||3427 Connecticut Avenue, NW||7,000||Q2 2018|
|Whole Foods||800 New Jersey Avenue, SE||39,000||Q4 2018|
|Streets Market and Cafe||55 M Street, NE||6,000||Q1 2019|
|Union Kitchen Grocery (1)||1924 8th Street, NW||2,100||Q1 2019|
|Trader Joe's||2101 Wisconsin Avenue, NW||15,000||Q3 2019|
|Union Kitchen Grocery (2)||1301 K Street, NW||2,500||Q4 2019|
|Streets Market and Cafe||1255 22nd Street, NW||5,000||Q4 2019|
|Streets Market and Cafe (1)||1864 Columbia Rd NW||5,000||Q1 2020|
|Whole Foods||965 Florida Avenue, NW||41,000||Q3 2020|
|Safeway (1, 2)||415 14th Street, SE||50,000||Q3 2020|
|Good Food Markets (2)||4001 South Capitol St., SW||3,800||2020|
|Lidl (2)||Skyland Town Center||29,000||TBD|
|Aldi (2)||ART Place at Fort Totten (Phase II)||25,000||2022|
|Wegmans (2)||3900 Wisconsin Avenue, NW||82,000||2022|
|(1) replacement store | (2) Pipeline | (3) closed (2014), (4) closed (2018)|
“We’ve been the largest attraction of young people in the United States for the last decade, therefore we’ve attracted some of the best and brightest minds throughout the entire United States to Washington, DC and it’s because of the jobs we offer but also because of the quality and the way of life that we offer. And that’s why I’d invest in Washington, DC, because its future is enormously bright.” – Richard Lake, Partner, Roadside Development
WDCEP leads the #WeDC campaign, the most successful digital campaign at SXSW for two years running.
WDCEP runs DC’s presence at ICSC RECon, retail’s leading conference which brings together 30,000+ leaders in the industry.
WDCEP regularly convenes public and private DC business leaders across sectors.
Looking for more information?
Explore DC’s business resources
Explore our signature, award winning publications.