Like many towns, Westfield is not immune to the current retail climate and hardships. According to recent news reports, online shopping increased 20% during the recent holiday season and continues to grow year after year. Brick and mortar stores continue to feel the effects of this trend as well. Like many downtown environments, independent stores and service providers are finding it more difficult than ever to compete in this new era of retail commerce and many national chains are in a period of contraction rather than expansion of their retail stores. Westfield is certainly seeing this paradigm shift in retail. Some of our largest spaces, which typically are most attractive to national retailers, are sitting empty for longer than we are accustomed. Fortunately, smaller commercial spaces are being rented more quickly and some recent closing announcements have already been rented-even though some of the details cannot yet be revealed.
Over 30 businesses opened in Downtown Westfield in 2015 and several notable properties have undergone extensive reconstruction and reinvestment as previously reported in this newsletter. Some of these spaces include Addams Tavern, 17-33 Elm Street, 44 Elm Street, 128 Elm Street, Jay's Cycle Center, and Laser Dental Group on Elmer Street. New development projects and residential development along the downtown corridor have been approved in the downtown district and are strong indicators of the desirability of Westfield as a place to live and invest.
While a dynamic downtown will always experience change as consumer preferences change, it is more important than ever to support Downtown Westfield. Take a stroll through downtown and experience all that Westfield has to offer. While online presence is an important part of our daily lives, let's work together to ensure that our strong and vibrant downtown remains an integral part of our community.
Downtown Westfield Corporation maintains a current list of vacancies on our website: www.westfieldtoday.com/availablespace