Continual reinvestment at all Irvine shopping centers results in places where people want to gather and spend time as well as shop.

Business story of the year: Irvine’s retail success

by TOM BERG

Retail across America is evolving at a lightning-quick pace. Some cities have failed to keep up. But Irvine’s retail is thriving as continual reinvestment creates shopping experiences that meet consumer demands.

This success is why retail is the business story of the year.

In 2019, about 60 new merchants opened their doors – nearly one-third of those were cafes and restaurants.

Retailers also reported extraordinary activity the past year, with sales and customer satisfaction reaching record levels.

Little Onion recently opened in Walnut Village.

At University Center, shop owners reported an increase in sales of more than 25% over the past few years.

Woodbridge Village Center merchants reported that sales more than doubled since 2015.

And Irvine Spectrum Center notched a record 17.5 million shoppers for the year – about the same as the Disneyland Resort’s annual visitors.

Fun, feel-good stories took place all across Irvine, like Little Onion – an independent, highly anticipated (and highly Instagrammable) restaurant – which was attracted
to Walnut Village Center following significant improvements completed in 2019.

From top to bottom, it was a banner year for Irvine’s retail sector.

Reinvestment is the difference

Irvine shopping centers benefit from continuous community investment and improvements designed to meet the needs and wants of local residents.

More than just a coat of paint, these improvements create gathering places in Irvine – places to read a book or listen to live music; places for kids to play and adults to relax; and welcoming spaces with meticulous landscapes and resort-style outdoor furniture.

This focus on creating social places instead of just shopping centers brings in the stores Irvine residents love.

“Irvine’s well-maintained centers attract the brands consumers want, from boutique shops to trendy restaurants, coffee shops, and in-demand markets,” says Bryan Starr, CEO of the Greater Irvine Chamber.

The added benefit of Irvine’s retail success: Sales tax dollars generate tens of millions of dollars for the city to support Irvine’s first- class Police Department and parks.