Skip To Content

DowntownFTL’s Vibrant Retail Scene

DowntownFTL’s Vibrant Retail Scene

Downtown Fort Lauderdale’s retail market is thriving. New restaurants and shops are elevating the downtown experience, benefiting from the critical mass of people living, working, and visiting our city. Take a bite out of our latest report to see how our vibrant retail and dining scene is evolving compared to other hot cities.

By The Numbers:

  • An 8K increase in the downtown population over the last five years helped drive a 28% increase in retail and dining options, adding 148 new restaurants and shops to downtown.
  • DowntownFTL’s retail vacancy rate is at a 10 year low of 3.1%, highlighting a healthy retail market in need of additional options to serve a critical mass of downtown residents.
  • Las Olas has more unique annual visitors (1.9M) than hot retail markets like Clematis and The Square (1.5M), Delray Beach’s Atlantic Avenue (1.5M), and Coconut Grove (1.2M).
  • DowntownFTL has a greater concentration of restaurants and shops (303 per square mile) than Downtown Nashville (230 per square mile).
  • Compared to pre-pandemic levels, Downtown Fort Lauderdale is seeing a 14 percent increase in retail foot traffic. Foot traffic in peer Sun Belt cities such as Downtown Austin and Downtown Nashville remain below pre-pandemic levels.

Introducing New Brands and Concepts:

  • Notable restaurants and shops that opened on Las Olas Boulevard within the past year or are coming soon include Fleming’s, Fogo de Chão, The Hollywood Donut Factory, Lululemon, Moxies, and Planta.
  • New restaurants and eateries that opened in Flagler Village or the Federal Highway corridor, within the past year include Aqui Bar & Kitchen, Fireman Derek’s, Mister O1 Extraordinary Pizza, Santiago’s Bodega, and Sushi Mas.

Downtown Fort Lauderdale continues to emerge as a top-of-mind destination to visit. As more people experience the unique charm of our city, a common question many wonder is: where are these guests coming from?

Top Out-of-State Zip Codes.

We can answer this question using data provided by and highlight to the exact zip code where our most frequent visitors come from. Notably, the top point-of-origin for out-of-state travelers to DowntownFTL is zip code 10011 representing the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. Chelsea is closely followed by the Upper West Side and Brooklyn. Rounding out the top 5 is Manhattan’s Financial District and Marina Del Ray in Los Angeles.

Top Metro Areas.

40% of all out-of-town visitors to DowntownFTL arrive from just six metro areas: New York City, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, Boston, and Washington DC.

  • The New York City metro area leads the way and is the point of origin for 20% of all visits to DowntownFTL
  • Atlanta, due to a large daily supply of flights to FLL, is routinely in the conversation.
  • Emerging points of origin joining this list in recent years include Houston, Dallas, and Los Angeles.
  • Within the summer season, Tampa and Orlando follow New York as the top place visitors are coming to DowntownFTL from.

Dive deeper.

Visit this heat map to zoom in at a more detailed level.

From the transformation of downtown to the boom on the beach to introducing the new players in the city, the future of Fort Lauderdale was on full display at last weeks

Fort Lauderdale Focus Real Estate & Investment Forum. Returning for the first time since 2020, the event featured a dynamic afternoon of presentations and panels highlighting the evolution of Fort Lauderdale.

The Big Idea:

Just a few short decades ago, our city was best known as a spring break getaway or a place you move to retire. And just 30 years ago, Downtown had just a handful of office buildings and virtually no residents. Today, 25K residents live in a 2 square mile area and nearly a quarter of the Downtown population moved here in just the last 3 years. Fort Lauderdale is getting its due time in the conversation about our region’s tremendous growth. A whole new Fort Lauderdale is emerging in front of our eyes.

Key Highlights on the Transformation of Fort Lauderdale

Jenni Morejon, Fort Lauderdale Downtown Development Authority

  • “Fort Lauderdale is doing what cities around the country aim to do. We are creating growth in a way that makes people want to come and stay here forever.”

Charlie Ladd, Barron Real Estate

  • “Las Olas can be one of the best streets in the country and we’re working on projects that add depth and elevate the street, like The Whitfield.”

Michael Harrison, Hines

  • “We want FAT Village to maintain and build upon its legacy and arts district reputation. We would like to see it as a destination outside of Las Olas and give the area something that doesn’t currently exist. We are not planning to just build buildings, but also programming them so they are true live, work and play spaces.”

Paulee Day, West Marine

  • “Fort Lauderdale showcased a holistic approach when welcoming us to the area. What sets Fort Lauderdale apart is its focus on community, family, friends and memories. It’s not just about money and material, but rather keeping local residents happy and healthy.”

What’s Next?:

We’re no longer South Florida’s best kept secret. The growth and investment on the way will continue to elevate Fort Lauderdale as a world-class destination to live, work, and visit.

The transformation of Fort Lauderdale into a global destination for business and leisure travel has been in motion for decades. DowntownFTL has seen a 35% increase in domestic visitors over the past year and has added 1,100 new hotel rooms since 2018. All the growth in downtown has helped to elevate the standing of our city, enhancing Fort Lauderdale as a destination for all kinds of visitors. Airlines are taking notice and are expanding their presence.

Connecting with New Hubs

One way to track the future growth of Fort Lauderdale into an sophisticated luxury destination for visitors is the expansion of routes and scheduled seats to Fort Lauderdale Hollywood-International Airport. Access to Fort Lauderdale is expanding, creating opportunities to showcase the evolution of DowntownFTL to other notable markets.

FLL, located just minutes from DowntownFTL, saw about 32 million passengers in 2022.

The airport and our city is poised to capitalize on several major trends and announcements attracting passengers to our region:

  • JetBlue is adding 90 flights to Fort Lauderdale, bringing its grand total of daily flights to FLL to 250 per day. 30 new routes will added to destinations in Europe and to growing cities like Tallahassee, Minneapolis, Memphis, and Savannah.
  • El Al recently relocated its U.S. headquarters to Greater Fort Lauderdale and has introduced flights connecting Fort Lauderdale to Tel Aviv. This expansion strengthens our city’s ties with one of the world’s leading innovation hubs.
  • Norse Atlantic Airways is adding 3 weekly flights to London, building off the addition of routes recently to Berlin, Germany and Oslo, Norway.

Rise of Bleisure Travel

The pandemic contributed to the rise of bleisure travel. Visitors increasingly choosing Fort Lauderdale, taking advantage of our unique lifestyle and the wealth of remote work opportunities available in DowntownFTL.

According to the Sun-Sentinel, “business travelers who extend their trips for a few extra days so they can take in local attractions — are making their presence felt as the COVID-19 pandemic fades and companies again underwrite the cost of sending employees out of town on business.”