Report: Davis Continues to Lag on Retail Sales

By David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

While the Vanguard has noted previously that Davis lags in retail sales, a report this week from a real estate company on the Second Street Crossing lays bare just how much Davis lags behind.

“Davis is a well-known limited growth city with extremely high barriers-to-entry,” the report notes.

Critically, “Besides Second Street Crossing, Davis hasn’t seen any traditional, anchored retail constructed since the late 1990’s making it one of the most under-retailed markets in the region at just over 34 SF of retail per capita, compared to Folsom at 71.41 SF and Roseville/Rocklin at 70.26 SF, respectively.”

Davis still has some advantages.

“City of Davis is home to the #2 ranked public university in the nation, the University of California, Davis with a total student population of 35,186 (not included in the total city population)” and the Second Street Crossing is “[e]xceptionally positioned less than 650’ from Interstate-80 at the Mace Boulevard interchange.”

In short, Davis has less than 50 percent of the retail base of cities like Roseville and Folsom.  That in turn means that Davis has far less in the way of sales tax dollars to support the community.  We have seen in recent years that manifest itself in terms of road conditions, city services, and most recently lack of staffing at the city level.

As one person put it recently, “Clearly, we have to update our general plan to provide for future retail, for an economic base including laboratory and office that will allow job creation. And we are woefully behind in providing a supply for housing.”

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. Walter Shwe

    It all goes back to the tyranny of Measure J. Get rid of Measure J and watch the tax dollars flow in to the City of Davis. Davis residents pay for Measure J in the form of high prices.

  2. Keith Y Echols

    I believe I was the one a year(s) ago, months ago….to go on and on about Davis’ lack of retail base that is necessary to pay for all the services residents both current and future need.  I said that all plans for new residential should have some corresponding (and preferably integrated but not a requirement) commercial retail plan to pay for city services.  In fact I said to try to plan for retail first and then residential if possible.  I believe that Don and I discussed briefly the need to loosen or remove the retail size restrictions and to possibly turn Chiles Road into a retail area too.

    1. Richard McCann


      You’re right we should focus on retail first, especially in established neighborhoods. Our focus on shopping centers is a failed approach. We should go even further to encourage mixed use redevelopment along many of the arterials. We need to disperse our retail and services and stop fantasizing about driving all business downtown. That was a misplace wish from the 1980s and 90s and is now obsolete–even destructive. Downtown should thrive on those businesses that participate in the agglomeration of social interaction or are highly specialized. But we don’t need multiple dry cleaners there–they should each be spread across the neighborhoods. Drive around North Oakland along College Ave, Piedmont Ave and Lakeshore Blvd to see how it could be.

      1. Walter Shwe

        Most businesses and restaurants need customers from more than just their surrounding neighborhoods to thrive and remain in business. They really need customers from the entire city and even a few from other places. Oakland is a poor example because Oakland is several times larger than Davis.

        1. Keith Y Echols

          The shopping center on Covell and Anderson does pretty well.  The Taqueria has a line out the door on some nights.  The Market Place does pretty well too with restaurants and coffee shops.  That shopping center off of Mace and Cowell (South Davis Nugget) does very well and has good restaurants.  I think Lampost Pizza does well over in West Davis.  The point is that neighborhood retail can do just fine and they’re crappy shopping centers.   They’ll do even better if you build enough high density residential within walking distance of the neighborhood retail.  Downtown would do better if it had more of a captive audience/market with more high density residential integrated into it.  I say that as the person that frequently moans and groans about traffic (and justifiably so).  Downtown would also benefit from more mass transit options; especially if becomes denser and more crowded.

      2. Keith Y Echols


        The only thing I differ with you on this subject is that I don’t believe there needs to be a focus on neighborhood or even downtown retail development.  I believe there’s a healthy mix of types of retail that is optimal for Davis.  I’m all for neighborhood retail development (god I miss being able to walk to a coffee shop, cafe, bodega and bar).  But there is a need for more big box retail in Davis (I probably just invoked a Davis curse for writing that).  I recall talking with Don about this once and we agreed that around Chiles Rd would be the area for that kind of growth….and yes, you’d have to add nearby commercial business parks and new neighborhood residential near the big box retail shopping centers (something entertainment based….destination retail as they call it).

  3. Todd Edelman

    I’m not sure about TJ Maxx or the other stores at 2nd Street crossing, but Target seems to do well due to its access to under costed road transportation – inclusive of “free” parking – and its smart buyers, clever image and price point compared to e.g. Costco and Walmart. Obviously it’s also the only game in town.

    What it doesn’t have is good access and utilization by means other than private automobile. The relevant bus stops are all the way across the parking lot or over on Mace. Despite it being directly on multi-use paths that connect to Mace Ranch and the edge of East Davis, there’s always just a few bikes parked there. The connection to the east side of South Davis for walking and cycling is hazardous and nearly irrelevant – the Pelz crossing is very indirect for many. There’s an additional problem as this is the only location of a pharmacy east of Pole Line – making this an equity issue. People shouldn’t have to drive or take long public transport journeys to get to a pharmacy.

    Not everyone who shops at Target makes huge purchases that would be impossible by the type of light cargo bicycle that should be promoted much more strongly in Davis, including via the shared bicycle system. Certainly this is less of a factor with TJ Maxx and other stores there. In the end a lot of university students travel from the other end of the city to Target, and most of them drive.

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