Follow us on Twitter Follow Us on Facebook
Link: Retail Printabe Version (PDF)

Several trends have been identified that give a clearer picture of the challenge before us, and may also suggest some areas of greatest vulnerability (or opportunity), where connections with appropriate community assets could be helpful:

  • Rise and Growth of E-Commerce: Since the mid-1990s, as use of the Internet has become widespread, there has been a corresponding rise in online shopping by consumers. No longer is it necessary to travel to a retail outlet to view products as diverse as clothing, books, household goods or electronics. Both entrepreneurs and traditional retailers have developed Web sites that offer the opportunity for comparison shopping, wide selection and the convenience of payment by credit card. The growth of shippers like Fed Ex, DHL and UPS has, in turn, made it possible to receive goods ordered online with next day service. This combination of factors has resulted in predictions that U.S. e-commerce will grow at a 19 % compound annual growth rate over the next decade. Continued growth in this segment of the retail economy could have a profound impact on traditional retailers who may as a result no longer need the number of retail outlets previously envisioned. E-commerce, with its low overhead and 24-hour cyberspace presence represents a real and growing threat to traditional store-based retailing, which in turn, impacts the prospects for additional neighborhood retail.

  • Cityview Center in suburban Garfield Heights combines big box retail in a power center setting [ Cityview Center, Garfield Heights]
    “Big Box” Convenience : Over the past decade, consumers have become accustomed to patronizing stores that provide one-stop shopping opportunities. So-called “big box” stores of 100,000-plus square feet featuring groceries, clothing and general merchandise, as well as video rentals, banking and car repair services, have proliferated across the country and in Ohio. Local examples include national retailers Wal-Mart, Target, Super Kmart and the super-sized supermarkets offered by regional chains like Giant Eagle and Topps. These stores, while they have been slow to enter the city of Cleveland, are turning up in growing numbers along its periphery in suburbs such as Fairview Park, Brooklyn, Garfield Heights and Cleveland Heights.
  • Power Center Retailing: Concurrent with the rise of big box stores has been the growth of the “power center”, which typically features three or more big box stores interspersed with mid-sized and smaller stores within a strip or on adjoining outlots. Power centers range in size from 400,000 square feet to as much as 1-million square feet and typically include anchor stores such as warehouse clubs, discount department stores and stores featuring consumer electronics, home improvement and off-price clothing. The main impact of power centers has been on older strip shopping centers, which have seen many of their major tenants relocate to the newer power centers to feed off the customer draw of the big box anchors. The Steelyard Commons Shopping Center, due to open in April 2007 adjacent to the Tremont neighborhood, will become Cleveland’s first example of this type of retail offering.
  • Retailers’ Anti-Urban Bias: Since the 1960s and 1970s, large parts of Cleveland’s inner-ring neighborhoods have been effectively abandoned by the retail industry. The city itself hasn’t fared much better, as it suffers from a lack of grocery, discount department and consumer electronic stores. As a result, many residents are forced to travel long distances to shop in nearby suburban areas. Analysts attribute these conditions to perceptions by retailers and retail developers that city markets are less attractive than suburban venues. These include a shrinking population, undesirable demographics, safety concerns, a shortage, on the one hand, of buildings of sufficient size and, on the other, difficulties with land assembly, and the quality and dependability of the work force. The first two concerns involve perceptions that can be addressed by local community development corporations; the last three, issues that only local government can rectify.
  • Demise of Locally-Owned Retailers: The coming ofnational big box chain retailers to Northeast Ohio has brought with it a corresponding decline in the number of locally owned businesses Clevelanders can patronize. Specialty retailers offering everything from hardware or appliances to men’s or women’s clothing have found it difficult to compete with the buying power and discount pricing that the Home Depots, Best Buys and Targets of the world can offer. This change in buying habits has, in turn, had a profound effect on the city’s traditional retail streets (e.g., Lorain, St. Clair and Broadway Avenues), which have seen growing numbers of vacant storefronts as neighborhood-based retailers have gone out of business.

These trends, at first glance, paint a rather bleak picture; but they are not the whole picture. Cleveland also has some significant strengths that must also be taken into consideration; these include a number of innovative programs and newly enacted zoning provisions that are yielding very promising results. As in other areas of city life, it is important to look, not only at the problems, but also at what tools can be utilized to effectuate positive changes.

Back to Top

Next Page:Retail:Assets

  Citywide Plan Home Page  
  Citywide Chapters  
  Economic Development  
  Recreation and Open Space  
  Arts and Culture  
  Education and Community Service  
  Transportation and Transit  
  Opportunity and Equity  
  Planning District Chapters  
District 1
District 2
District 3
District 4
District 5
District 6