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Best face forward - the economic impact of SIP

Façade improvements have a visual impact, but what are the economic impacts?

Does a well-designed storefront façade really make a difference? 

Commerce recently released a study on the economic impact of its Storefront Improvement Program (SIP).  “We’d heard, anecdotally, that store owners who gave their storefronts facelifts saw a boost in customers. We wanted to confirm that this was truly the case and measure SIP’s broader impacts too,” says Jonathan Snyder, Senior Manager for Commercial Corridor Development at Commerce.

The study demonstrates that the recipients of SIP grants did see more sales, even during a challenging economic period, and that their investments in their facades had a ripple effect on their corridor and neighborhood. 

SIP offers store owners on designated neighborhood commercial corridors matching grants for façade improvements like new signage, awnings, display windows, paint, or lighting. This year, Commerce expanded the list of eligible corridors and increased the grant amounts. Businesses can now use SIP to support 50% of façade renovation costs—up to $10,000 for midblock storefronts and $15,000 for corner storefronts. Learn more about SIP.

“We want every store owner to know that their investment in storefront improvement will have an impact,” says Giana Lawrence, Manager of the Storefront Improvement Program. “We’re pleased to offer SIP as resource.”

The SIP advantage
The Commerce study used several years of sales and property data, both citywide and from the East Passyunk Avenue and Frankford Avenue Commercial Corridors. You can read the full analysis here, but we want to share some key findings.

  • Businesses on the Frankford Avenue and East Passyunk Avenue Commercial Corridors that completed a SIP project saw a 25% to 30% increase in total receipts (all money received for goods and services) over peer businesses between 2009 and 2012.
  • The 65 mixed-use buildings (stores on the ground floor and apartments upstairs) that completed SIP projects between 2009 and 2012 saw their property values rise by $50,000 on average, representing a 20% increase.
  • 75% of owners adjacent to a SIP project improved their facades within the following three years.
  • SIP was a contributing factor in increased house values. House values in census tracts with a SIP project rose by 12% between 2000 and 2012, in comparison to 10% for the city overall. In addition, more homes within SIP census tracts now fall within the $150,000 – $299,999 or the $300,000 – $499,999 price range. Fewer homes fall within the $20,000 to $49,999 or the $50,000 to $99,999 price range.

Based on this report, Jonathan Snyder says, “The Storefront Improvement Program is increasing the performance of businesses. By supporting well-designed façade improvements, we are making corridors more attractive to customers. SIP also offers clear benefits for neighboring businesses and residents. We’d like to expand our sample for a future impact study, but what we see so far is positive and encouraging.” 




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