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Planning Commission

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Nov 27

Shopping Till You Drop in Montgomery County

Posted on November 27, 2013 at 2:32 PM by Michael Stokes

Even if you didn’t awaken at 4 a.m. on Black Friday and elbow your way through crazed shoppers seeking out the perfect holiday present at bargain prices, you couldn’t have made it through the day without coming to the realization that there is a lot of shopping going on in Montgomery County.   After all, there are over 29.2 million square feet of shopping centers and large stores in the county awaiting your spending power.    That works out to about 36 square feet of shopping area for every county resident, while the national average is about 23 square feet.  Montgomery County is also home to the King of Prussia Mall, nation’s largest shopping mall in terms of shopping space.  Great shopping opportunities can also be found in downtown areas and smaller stores throughout the county.   When it comes to retail, Montgomery County is a destination.  As a result retail is a big part of the economy and accounts for 13% of the jobs in the county.

The retail economy is dynamic.  Montgomery County has experienced tremendous growth in retail over the past twenty years with several new shopping centers opening including the Philadelphia Premium Outlet Mall in Limerick.   This growth has caused some retail stores to move out of older shopping centers creating vacancies and the need to find different types of tenants.  In the past 20 years national and regional retail trends have reshaped the shopping landscape in the county.   The growth of large national retail chain stores and the development of power centers have occurred in several locations.  Stores like Walmart, Target, Best Buys, Whole Foods, Lowes, Walgreens, CVS, and Wegmans, did not exist in the county 20 years ago - now they are dominant.   Other once important stores such as Genuardi’s and Clemens Food stores have completely disappeared. Over the past 20 years the internet has caused the disappearance of book and video stores and changed personal shopping habits. 

How will we shop on Black Friday twenty years from now?  Will we see even more retail facilities?  Will our malls and shopping centers continue to be the primary areas of retail growth or will shopping become more dispersed in smaller downtowns throughout the county?   What will be the impact of technology and the internet on local retail commerce?   These are some of the questions that we will explore in the Montgomery County Comprehensive Plan.  We look forward to your help in addressing them.  So in between your holiday shopping trips, please get involved in the county planning process by visiting our comprehensive plan web page or complete our questionnaire while you wait in line for the register with your next purchases. 

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