Economic Recovery

Tracking the downtown recovery

Since the onset of COVID-19, DSA has been tracking the impact on our local economy. In the midst of a changing environment, we’ve been following dozens of metrics to trace the path to economic recovery. A few of these metrics are in the economic recovery snapshot chart below.

DSA also conducted a survey of Seattle businesses, many of whom are in industries highly impacted by measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The survey was conducted to help us better understand COVID-19’s impact on Seattle industries and their perspectives on reopening our economy.

COVID-19 Downtown Recovery Snapshot

This chart shows year-over-year statistics and measures where downtown stood for the worst month in the downturn (orange bars) and the status for the most recent month (blue bars).

Summary

  • Monthly hotel revenue was down as much as 96% this year. In September, it was down 89% year-over-year.  Occupancy was down as much as 87% and is still down 75% as of September. Note that occupancy only represents rooms available in any given month (several hotels were closed during parts of 2020).
  • Office leasing was down 73% in the third quarter year-over-year after being down as much as 84%.
  • Visitor traffic to downtown (the number of visits by those who are not workers or residents) has improved significantly. While it was down by as much as 84%, it is currently down 52% as of October.
  • Retail leasing activity was down 77% in the third quarter. This is the lowest point for the current downturn.
  • The number of daytime workers present in the downtown neighborhoods with the heaviest concentration of office space was down 86% and is currently down 82% as of October.
  • Overall foot traffic downtown (visitors, workers and residents) is still down 49% as of October but was down as much as 66% earlier in the year.
  • Surface street traffic downtown was down by about a third in September. This has been consistent over the past several months but it was down by 60% earlier in the year.
  • The estimated number of jobs associated with a downtown worksite was down by as much as 13% and is still down about 7% as of the end of the third quarter.
  • Apartment occupancy was down 3% in the third quarter, its worst point for the current downturn.

Notes:

All statistics on this page are for downtown Seattle and represent the most recent statistics available. Figures on this page represent the most recent available data as of Nov. 20, 2020 (the “current” figures are for the full month of October).

Sources include CoStar, Oxford Economics, Placer.ai, Puget Sound Regional Council, Seattle Department of Transportation, Smith Travel Research and Visit Seattle. All statistics represent year-over-year data and show the current year-over-year change (blue) as well as the change at the worst point in the downturn (orange).

“Foot traffic” is an estimate of all visits to downtown by anyone (visitor, resident or worker). “Workers present” measures visits by workers who were present in the downtown neighborhoods with the heaviest concentration of office space between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays. “Visitors” measures the number of visits by those who are neither residents nor workers downtown.