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15 Cities Where Brick-and-Mortar Stores Are Dying Out Fast

Unhappy woman shopping
Krakenimages.com / Shutterstock.com

Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on Upgraded Points.

The holiday season is in full swing, and for U.S. retailers, it is often the busiest season of the year for consumer spending.

Holiday spending in the U.S. is estimated to total nearly $1 trillion in 2023 as shoppers rush to buy gifts, food, and decorations and take advantage of retailers’ steep discounts.

However, the overall strength of consumer spending obscures how trends in retail have shifted over time, often creating challenges for local stores.

The pandemic played a part in accelerating a major trend that has impacted the sector in recent years: the growing shift toward e-commerce and the decline of brick-and-mortar retail.

This decline has been felt differently across the U.S.

The following is a breakdown of the top major metropolitan areas where brick-and-mortar retailers are declining. The analysis was conducted by Upgraded Points using data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

1. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA

The skyline of San Jose
stellamc / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage Change in Retail Stores (Per Capita): -23.6%
  • Retail Stores per 1,000 Population (2021): 2.0
  • Retail Stores per 1,000 Population (2011): 2.6
  • Percentage Change in Retail Stores (Overall): -16.1%
  • Total Change in Retail Stores (Overall): -760
  • Total Retail Stores (2021): 3,960
  • Total Retail Stores (2011): 4,720

2. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA

Aerial view of roads leading into Seattle at sunset.
Punit Sharma Fotography / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage Change in Retail Stores (Per Capita): -22.8%
  • Retail Stores per 1,000 Population (2021): 2.3
  • Retail Stores per 1,000 Population (2011): 3.0
  • Percentage Change in Retail Stores (Overall): -9.9%
  • Total Change in Retail Stores (Overall): -1,012
  • Total Retail Stores (2021): 9,171
  • Total Retail Stores (2011): 10,183

3. San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, CA

San Francisco, home to Minerva University, which is virtual and has no campus
Engel Ching / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage Change in Retail Stores (Per Capita): -19.8%
  • Retail Stores per 1,000 Population (2021): 2.3
  • Retail Stores per 1,000 Population (2011): 2.9
  • Percentage Change in Retail Stores (Overall): -11.7%
  • Total Change in Retail Stores (Overall): -1,457
  • Total Retail Stores (2021): 11,021
  • Total Retail Stores (2011): 12,478

4. Salt Lake City, UT

Salt Lake City, Utah
f11photo / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage Change in Retail Stores (Per Capita): -19.4%
  • Retail Stores per 1,000 Population (2021): 2.4
  • Retail Stores per 1,000 Population (2011): 2.9
  • Percentage Change in Retail Stores (Overall): -6.5%
  • Total Change in Retail Stores (Overall): -204
  • Total Retail Stores (2021): 2,930
  • Total Retail Stores (2011): 3,134

5. Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown, TX

Austin, Texas
Roschetzky Photography / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage Change in Retail Stores (Per Capita): -19.3%
  • Retail Stores per 1,000 Population (2021): 2.5
  • Retail Stores per 1,000 Population (2011): 3.1
  • Percentage Change in Retail Stores (Overall): +7.2%
  • Total Change in Retail Stores (Overall): +370
  • Total Retail Stores (2021): 5,501
  • Total Retail Stores (2011): 5,131

6. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV

Arlington, Virginia
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage Change in Retail Stores (Per Capita): -18.8%
  • Retail Stores per 1,000 Population (2021): 2.3
  • Retail Stores per 1,000 Population (2011): 2.8
  • Percentage Change in Retail Stores (Overall): -7.7%
  • Total Change in Retail Stores (Overall): -1,182
  • Total Retail Stores (2021): 14,255
  • Total Retail Stores (2011): 15,437

7. Tucson, AZ

Tucson
Chris Rubino / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage Change in Retail Stores (Per Capita): -18.4%
  • Retail Stores per 1,000 Population (2021): 2.2
  • Retail Stores per 1,000 Population (2011): 2.7
  • Percentage Change in Retail Stores (Overall): -13.3%
  • Total Change in Retail Stores (Overall): -351
  • Total Retail Stores (2021): 2,289
  • Total Retail Stores (2011): 2,640

8. Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler, AZ

Downtown Phoenix Arizona
John Wollwerth / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage Change in Retail Stores (Per Capita): -18.4%
  • Retail Stores per 1,000 Population (2021): 2.0
  • Retail Stores per 1,000 Population (2011): 2.5
  • Percentage Change in Retail Stores (Overall): -5.8%
  • Total Change in Retail Stores (Overall): -607
  • Total Retail Stores (2021): 9,777
  • Total Retail Stores (2011): 10,384

9. Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL

Orlando, Florida
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage Change in Retail Stores (Per Capita): -18.3%
  • Retail Stores per 1,000 Population (2021): 3.0
  • Retail Stores per 1,000 Population (2011): 3.6
  • Percentage Change in Retail Stores (Overall): +1.7%
  • Total Change in Retail Stores (Overall): +134
  • Total Retail Stores (2021): 7,808
  • Total Retail Stores (2011): 7,674

10. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI

Minneapolis, Minnesota
Pinkcandy / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage Change in Retail Stores (Per Capita): -17.0%
  • Retail Stores per 1,000 Population (2021): 2.4
  • Retail Stores per 1,000 Population (2011): 2.9
  • Percentage Change in Retail Stores (Overall): -8.3%
  • Total Change in Retail Stores (Overall): -811
  • Total Retail Stores (2021): 8,930
  • Total Retail Stores (2011): 9,741

11. Urban Honolulu, HI

Honolulu, Hawaii
emperorcosa / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage Change in Retail Stores (Per Capita): -16.7%
  • Retail Stores per 1,000 Population (2021): 2.4
  • Retail Stores per 1,000 Population (2011): 2.9
  • Percentage Change in Retail Stores (Overall): -10.5%
  • Total Change in Retail Stores (Overall): -290
  • Total Retail Stores (2021): 2,473
  • Total Retail Stores (2011): 2,763

12. Richmond, VA

Richmond, Virginia
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage Change in Retail Stores (Per Capita): -16.7%
  • Retail Stores per 1,000 Population (2021): 2.8
  • Retail Stores per 1,000 Population (2011): 3.4
  • Percentage Change in Retail Stores (Overall): -7.8%
  • Total Change in Retail Stores (Overall): -311
  • Total Retail Stores (2021): 3,690
  • Total Retail Stores (2011): 4,001

13. Raleigh-Cary, NC

Raleigh, North Carolina
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage Change in Retail Stores (Per Capita): -16.0%
  • Retail Stores per 1,000 Population (2021): 2.7
  • Retail Stores per 1,000 Population (2011): 3.3
  • Percentage Change in Retail Stores (Overall): +5.9%
  • Total Change in Retail Stores (Overall): +213
  • Total Retail Stores (2021): 3,817
  • Total Retail Stores (2011): 3,604

14. Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN

Indianapolis, Indiana
f11photo / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage Change in Retail Stores (Per Capita): -15.9%
  • Retail Stores per 1,000 Population (2021): 2.6
  • Retail Stores per 1,000 Population (2011): 3.1
  • Percentage Change in Retail Stores (Overall): -6.0%
  • Total Change in Retail Stores (Overall): -343
  • Total Retail Stores (2021): 5,372
  • Total Retail Stores (2011): 5,715

15. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH

Boston
mandritoiu / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage Change in Retail Stores (Per Capita): -15.8%
  • Retail Stores per 1,000 Population (2021): 2.9
  • Retail Stores per 1,000 Population (2011): 3.4
  • Percentage Change in Retail Stores (Overall): -8.5%
  • Total Change in Retail Stores (Overall): -1,326
  • Total Retail Stores (2021): 14,219
  • Total Retail Stores (2011): 15,545

Methodology

Working on computer data analysis on a laptop
Gorodenkoff / Shutterstock.com

The data used in this study is from the latest U.S. Census Bureau’s County Business Patterns (CBP) release.

To determine the locations that have experienced the largest decline in brick-and-mortar retail, researchers at Upgraded Points calculated the percentage change in the number of retail store establishments per capita over the 10 years between 2011 and 2021.

For this analysis, retail store establishments exclude “nonstore” retailers, such as e-commerce businesses.

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