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Public health officials declared the end of the COVID-19 pandemic in May 2023, yet this tumultuous time continues to have far-reaching effects on global and local economies. Although visitor activity is close to pre-pandemic levels with the return of festivals, conventions and other events to Downtown Austin, the world of hybrid work has reduced revenue opportunities for many downtown businesses—especially restaurants and food trucks. Also, while commercial developments will eventually create new opportunities for retailers, the demolition of buildings in 2023 was the leading driver of business closures.

The Downtown Austin Alliance conducts a yearly analysis of downtown’s storefront businesses to better address their challenges and create new opportunities for driving consumers downtown. We hope our 2023 report will be a helpful tool for businesses to use in planning and leaders to use in policymaking and program development.

Key Findings

  • As of October 2023, 88% of available Downtown Austin storefronts were occupied by operating businesses (down from 90% in September 2022).

  •  New business openings were up significantly in 2023, with 55 new establishments, but 68 businesses downtown permanently closed.

  • In 2023, average downtown visitor traffic was at 86% of 2019 levels overall and reached 94% of 2019 levels for Saturdays and Sundays.

  • Downtown’s weekday population in 2023 averaged 63% of 2019 levels, as hybrid workweeks have become the new norm.

  • While more than a quarter of downtown businesses surveyed reported an increase in revenue since 2020, more than half reported a decrease in revenue.

  • Safety and issues related to homelessness were the top two business challenges or concerns cited by surveyed businesses.

Roadmap to Recovery

The Roadmap to Recovery and Resilience envisions a better, more resilient downtown by tackling challenges head on while laying out transformative plans including a new neighborhood with parks, public spaces and transit access on Lady Bird Lake.

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COVID-19 Economic Impact

While the long-term consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic not yet known, we have seen significant economic impacts on our city and our downtown. With a focus on response and recovery, we actively measured and monitored the effects of the pandemic on downtown Austin.

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Our team conducts primary research on downtown-related issues and compiles and analyzes third-party research to make data-driven decisions as we work together to shape our future.

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What We Do

Our dedicated team created the downtown that Austin's future generations deserve through special projects, daily programs and collaborations that enable us to bolster the things that work, change the things that don’t and serve our membership.

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