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Holiday festivities and downtown attractions drove end of year success across various sectors

Posted  5 months ago

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | Jan. 23, 2024

CHICAGO—Today, Chicago Loop Alliance (CLA) released its quarter four 2023 State of the Loop report on downtown activity, using a variety of data sources, which the organization has produced since July 2020. The report tracks pedestrian activity, shared mobility and transit, hotel occupancy, office workers on-site, arts and culture, retail, and more. Record-breaking attendance at holiday attractions; robust hotel activity and continued increases in office attributed to success in pedestrian activity and office occupancy. View the quarter four (Oct.-Dec. 2023) State of the Loop report here.

“Rounding out 2023 with significant investments in office; exponential increases in arts and culture attendance; and leisure tourism exceling in hotel occupancy early in the quarter, Loop activity remains strong, suggesting that investments in downtown events advances activity in other sectors,” said Michael Edwards, President and CEO of Chicago Loop Alliance. “While office occupancy shows incremental increases, the sector is buoyed by activity in the Loop office market. A variety of actions including, companies utilizing less space, but relocating to the Loop; major refinancing and millions invested in office amenities aimed at attracting workers back to the office; and the purchase of smaller buildings, at deep discounts, providing compact physical offices, showcases organizations continue to bet on the Loop.”

Pedestrians
In 2023, State Street in the Loop saw over 67 million pedestrian impressions. Q4’s highest level of pedestrian activity came during the week of 11/13 with 1.3 million impressions, exceeding the same week in 2019. That week, holiday attractions drew large amounts of people to the Loop, proving that investment in downtown events yields results across various sectors. Overall, total impressions in Q4 2023 exceeded 88 percent of 2019 levels, showing a 33 percent increase since 2021.

Arts and Culture
The arts & theater scene downtown continues to drive the Loop’s economic recovery. Offerings like “Hamilton,” “A Christmas Carol”, and Joffrey’s “The Nutcracker” brought 1.4 million attendees to the Loop in Q4, an increase of 40 percent from Q4 2022, and a 303 percent increase from Q3 2023. Robust theater, museum, and other cultural institutions’ attendance contributed $394 million to the Loop economy. Bravo!

A record-breaking attendance of 1.3 million visitors at Daley Plaza’s Christkindlmarket and nearly 70,000 skaters at Millennium Park’s McCormick Tribune Ice Rink bolstered continued growth and neighborhood vibrancy.

Hotels
Positive trends in 2023’s occupancy continued into Q4, with October’s 77 percent occupancy rate mirroring levels from the summer. Activity and visitation broke additional records as revenue increased by 6 percent from the previous quarter to $301 million, a high for the year according to Choose Chicago.

 

Office Occupancy
Office occupancy rates downtown increased by 8 percent this year and continued to be +4 percent higher than the 10-city national average according to Kastle Systems. The week of 11/13, mirroring pedestrian data, saw the highest weekly rate of the quarter and the entire year. Driving occupancy that week was the opening of downtown holiday attractions such as Christkindlmarket, the Chicago Tree Lighting, and downtown ice skating rinks.

Retail
Holiday retail sales nationwide increased by 3 percent from 2022 according to MasterCard Spending Pulse, including a 2 percent increase for in-store purchases and 6 percent for on-line sales. Major city retail centers, like State St., continue to be top destinations for holiday shopping. Retail spaces on State St. benefited from a 10 percent pedestrian activity increase in Q4 from 2022, totaling 81 percent of pre-pandemic levels throughout the retail corridor.

Transportation
Folks spending time commuting on public transportation may note a significant increase in ridership, particularly during peak periods. This increase is certainly reflected in quarterly office occupancy and pedestrian activity figures. On a regional basis, Metra reported a steady ridership increase throughout 2023, with Q4 seeing the highest figures post-pandemic at 56 percent ridership of 2019 levels.* Additionally, 24 percent more Divvy rides ended in the Loop in Q4 2023 than in 2020.

Methodology
Sources for pedestrian activity provided by Springboard; arts and culture provided by Choose Chicago Cultural Index, Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and the Art Institute of Chicago; hotel occupancy provided by Choose Chicago; Metra and CTA provided by Regional Transportation Authority, Metra and Chicago Transit Authority; office occupancy provided by Kastle Systems; retail sales provided by MasterCard Spending Pulse; and shared mobility ridership data provided by Divvy to the Chicago Department of Transportation and Sam Schwartz.

About Chicago Loop Alliance
Chicago Loop Alliance (CLA)’s mission is to lead the community by creating and supporting inclusive programs that attract people and investment to the Loop. CLA is a membership organization as well as the sole service provider for Special Service Area#1-2015, and the Chicago Loop Alliance Foundation produces public art projects and events. For more information, please visit LoopChicago.com.

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