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Portland’s lively retail scene cracks the top 10

Portland’s retail scene may be a touch eclectic — think bone broth bars and hipster outdoor gear alongside Nike, Nordstrom and Macy’s — but it’s dense enough to help fuel economic health and vibrant neighborhoods.

So says a new report from Portland think tank City Observatory, which looks at the “economic and social benefits of clustered, customer-facing retail and service businesses.” According to the report, storefront clusters can be an important indicator of economic prosperity and lively neighborhoods. The more the merrier, in fact.

“Downtowns, main streets and shopping districts are important public spaces for cities,” said Joe Cortright, economist and founding director of City Observatory, in a release. “When clustered together, these customer-facing businesses shape walkability, activate streets and make urban neighborhoods better places to live.”

The report looked at 51 metropolitan regions across the country and ranked them based on the number of businesses clustered close to each other within three miles of the city center. City Observatory defined storefront clusters as “groups of customer-facing retail and service businesses located within easy walking distance of one another.” The report also provides data to show that vibrant storefront areas provide more consumer choice, lower prices, better walkability and jobs for local residents.

New York, with 9,905 storefronts, landed at the top spot on the list, followed by San Francisco (5,777) and Los Angeles (3,173). Portland nabbed the number 10 spot with 1,686 storefronts within three miles of the city center. Seattle narrowly edged out Portland for the No. 9 spot with 1,694 storefronts.


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