Despite promising signs of a return to normal, pedestrian numbers, spending levels and hotel occupancy in the city center were around half what they were before the pandemic last year.
These numbers are listed in Downtown Santa Monica, Inc.’s annual report, which shares a lot of optimism for the future recovery but could not avoid the last year being economically devastating for many downtown businesses and hotels.
Total taxable sales in 2020 were $ 688 million, down approximately 40 percent from 2019 and nearly 50 percent from taxable sales of $ 1.21 billion in 2018.
Downtown hotels also suffered a severe economic blow.
In fiscal 2018 through 2019 before the pandemic, hotels had an average occupancy rate of 85 percent and an average room rate of $ 335 per day.
In the past fiscal year 2020 to 2021, the average occupancy was almost halved to 48 percent, while the average daily room rate was US $ 213.
Visitor and parking numbers show similar trends. In the 2020 to 2021 financial year, a total of 15.9 million pedestrian impressions were recorded on 3rd Street Promenade, compared to 29.2 million in the 2018 to 2019 financial year. The average daily peak occupancy of the parking spaces was also halved from 62 percent in the 2018 to 2019 financial year 28 percent in FY 2020 to 2021.
These overarching figures paint a bleak picture, but if broken down more precisely, they contain glimmers of hope.
For example, while hotel occupancy reached a low of 20 percent in January, there was a relative boom in the summer with an occupancy rate of 72 percent in June and an average daily rate of $ 301. This is not far from pre-pandemic numbers, and shows that downtown Santa Monica still has a strong draw for domestic and local visitors, even though international travelers have been largely barred from visiting.
The pedestrian tracker Promenade also reflected this summer boom.
To attract more visitors to the city center, DTSM launched a regional advertising campaign in July 2020, which could be seen on over 100 billboards, and doubled its PR and marketing campaigns with a total of 3,457 placements in newspapers, magazines, event directories, blogs and social media -Posts.
Another positive indicator in the annual report was rental prices. Despite the significant decline in visitor numbers and spending, apartment and retail rents retained most of their value in the last financial year, with annual decreases of 4 and 5 percent respectively.
“Our emotional, physical, and economic recovery from the pandemic will take time and effort,” said Kathleen Rawson, CEO of Downtown Santa Monica, Inc., in the report. “But if we all do our part and continue to work together and build on one another, I am confident that we will emerge stronger and better meet the challenges of tomorrow.”