Central business districts: City strugglers

We revisit spending in city centers and find that while northern cities continue to struggle, spending in southern cities is up.

Headshot of Taylor Bowley

Taylor Bowley

Headshot of David Tinsley

David Tinsley

September 2023

Key takeaways

  • Central business districts (CBDs) in the northern and western U.S. continue to see consumer spending below pre-pandemic levels. However, there is a glimmer in New York City and Seattle that the situation is not continuing to deteriorate.
  • On the other hand, when looking at an expanded set of cities across the U.S., those in the south are seeing strong growth in their city centers.
  • The difference in performance is largely driven by migration patterns as working from home doesn't necessarily vary across cities. For example, southern cities with increased population growth also seem to be capturing more of the increasing spend in their city centers.

Read our full analysis for a more in-depth look at these trends.