Creating Vibrant Urban Sidewalks
by Andres Sevtsuk
A comprehensive analysis of the issues involved in planning for and facilitating successful street commerce
Street commerce has gained prominence in urban areas, where demographic shifts such as increasing numbers of single people and childless "empty nesters," along with technological innovations enabling greater flexibility of work locations and hours, have changed how people shop and dine out. Contemporary city dwellers are demanding smaller-scale stores located in public spaces that are accessible on foot or by public transit. At the same time, the emergence of online retail undermines both the dominance and viability of big-box discount businesses and drives brick and mortar stores to focus as much on the experience of shopping as on the goods and services sold. Meanwhile, in many developing countries, the bulk of urban retail activity continues to take place on the street, even as new car-oriented shopping centers are on the rise. In light of such trends, street commerce will play an important role in twenty-first-century cities, particularly in producing far-reaching benefits for the environment and local communities.
Although street commerce is deeply intertwined with myriad contemporary urban visions and planning goals—walkability, quality of life, inclusion, equity, and economic resilience—it has rarely been the focus of systematic research and informed practice. In Street Commerce, Andres Sevtsuk presents a comprehensive analysis of the issues involved in implementing successful street commerce. Drawing on economic theory, urban design principles, regulatory policies, and merchant organization models, he conceptualizes key problems and offers innovative solutions. He provides a range of examples from around the world to detail how different cities and communities have bolstered and reinvigorated their street commerce. According to Sevtsuk, successful street commerce can only be achieved when the private sector, urban policy makers, planners, and the public are equipped with the relevant knowledge and tools to plan and regulate it.
Chapter 1. The Predictability, and Unpredictability, of Street Commerce
Chapter 2. The Survival of Individual Stores
Chapter 3. How Stores Cluster
Chapter 4. Coordinated Clustering: Business Improvement Districts, Co-ops, and Malls
Chapter 5. Location, Location, Location: How Retailers Gravitate to Homes, Workplaces, and Pedestrians
Chapter 6. How Urban Design and Building Typologies Affect Retail Location Patterns
Chapter 7. How Demographic Shifts and E-Commerce Are Reshaping the Retail Landscape
"Andres Sevtsuk has provided a compelling, practical account of how to bring streets to life economically. Based on thorough research, Street Commerce explores how to protect small shops, work with e-commerce, and integrate commercial and non-commercial activities. For planners and the public alike, this is a must-read."—Richard Sennett
"The future of cities won't be delivered to your door or found by driving to a big-box store. Andres Sevtsuk finds the commercial and social heart of the world's cities on the shopping street just around the corner."—Janette Sadik-Khan, Bloomberg Associates, former Commissioner, NYC Dept. of Transportation
"The energy of city streets is fueled by their commerce. Shop windows try to entice you. Food trucks deliver aromas that surround you. Yet the rise of e-commerce creates uncertainty about the future of cities and their shops. Andres Sevtsuk's Street Commerce provides an invaluable guide to the present and future of urban retail. If you are planning a city or opening a store or renting an apartment, Sevtsuk's fascinating book helps you to make sense of the buying and selling that shapes neighborhoods. Sevtsuk combines serious scholarship with a flair for grasping the essential aspects of urban commercial life. This is an important book that reminds us that modern cities are built around gains from trade."—Edward Glaeser, Harvard University
"Street Commerce makes a valuable connection between planning and retail commerce, showing how retail can be an integral part of increasing the vibrancy of street life in urban areas. Andres Sevtsuk draws upon a multidisciplinary background, as well as his own international experiences living and working in different global cities, to offer a unique perspective."—Peter Hendee Brown, University of Minnesota