April 4, 2022 6:01 PM
SANTA MONICA, Calif. — In the last year, the City of Santa Monica has approved over 750 new business permits across multiple industries. Recently released figures show that the unemployment rate in Santa Monica has declined to 4.9% from a high of 16.1% in spring 2020 and retail sales have increased in Santa Monica.
The City took significant steps during the COVID-19 pandemic to support our local businesses including streamlining the zoning process, creating more flexibility for re-tenanting of existing space, and extending the fee waivers for outdoor dining and retail through the Santa Monica Outdoors Pilot Program. The positive economic data and trends underscore the impact of these efforts.
“We are excited to see the creativity and variety of new businesses opening in Santa Monica,” said Santa Monica City Manager David White. “These businesses are bringing new energy to our commercial areas and helping contribute to the impressive variety of goods and services offered to our residents, employees, and visitors alike. Small and locally owned businesses are the backbone of our community and supporting them generates jobs and resources for our schools and vital City services.”
Jennifer Taylor, Santa Monica’s Economic Development Manager and Chair of the Buy Local Santa Monica campaign added, “An inclusive and equitable economic recovery remains a priority for our City and we’re happy to see this growth in new business activity. We’re on a steady road to recovery with more work to be done.”
Santa Monica Economy
- Recently released trends combined with new business openings show positive signs of growth for the Santa Monica economy.
- The latest Santa Monica Labor Market data received by the City last week covers April – June 2021 and shows upward trends in total number of employees and in the number of operating businesses. The total number of monthly employees in Santa Monica has steadily increased from 75,000 to 83,045 in June, with noticeable increases in the Accommodation and Food Services (4,819 new jobs) and Arts/Recreation/Entertainment (891 new jobs). The total number of establishments/businesses in the most recent quarter is 9,845 businesses (up from 9,769 in Quarter 1).
- According to the State of California’s Employment Development Department, the February 2022 unemployment rate in Santa Monica is now 4.9% declining from a high of 16.1% in Spring 2020.
- From the most recent Santa Monica Sales Tax Report (HDL Q3 2021: July – September), Santa Monica has experienced a 26.2% rise in sales tax revenue from same quarter last year (Q3 2021 vs. Q3 2020) with notable increases in the following sectors: Restaurants/Hotels (79.5% increase), General Consumer Goods (22%) and Autos/Transport (22%).
- Additional information about specific business sectors, top employers, and top sales tax produces has been posted at santamonica.gov/business-climate.
- While Santa Monica is seeing positive signs for our local economy, it is important to put these trends in perspective as Santa Monica is in the initial phase of our economic recovery and the overall economy is not at pre-pandemic levels.
The City’s recent financial projection included an $188 million loss in revenue over a three-year period, City reserves are 59% less than what they were immediately prior to the pandemic, and the City’s capital improvement budget has been cut by more than 50%, all having real impacts on city services.
New Business Trends
With welcoming so many new businesses, the City is seeing some exciting new business trends. In the past year, 103 restaurants and coffee bars, 92 health and wellness businesses, 73 retailers, 65 beauty businesses, 35 fitness/gym businesses, and 17 auto-related businesses have opened in Santa Monica. Some of our newest eateries are bringing more great food to Santa Monica including Ethiopian vegan, Hawaiian taro, and Japanese curries which builds upon long-time local business offerings including Tehran Market’s recently expanded Persian market on Wilshire Blvd. and Indo Asian Foods Grocer on Pico Blvd.
More bike shops and mobility operators are also arriving in Santa Monica such as the acclaimed Dutch e-bike store Van Moof in downtown, the new stylish and affordable e-bikes at Leon Cycles on Main Street, a new bike shop Ciclique, Inc. is coming soon to Montana Avenue, and one of the City’s shared mobility operators VEO is opening its west coast headquarters on the Third Street Promenade.
In-store sales are also showing positive signs. Prior quarter data showed high trends in online sales at the expense of in-store purchases. Now, retail is as strong as online sales and hopefully will continue to trend upwards. Purchases made direct at a local business (even if online but picked up directly) generate higher proportion of sales tax revenue directly for the City and the revenue helps to support local businesses and retain jobs in our community.
Sustainability continues to be a key focus for incoming business operations: Gnarwhal, a 100% organic coffee roaster sources from small farmers, Vinfast and Tesla are committed to reducing the carbon footprint with new electric vehicles and charging stations, Buena Vida Tea Bar & Garden’s emphasizes sustainably sourced products, The RealReal offers opportunities to upcycle and recycle clothing, and more. Many of these businesses are reflecting Santa Monica’s ongoing commitment to economic sustainability, stewardship of the natural environment, and supporting a circular economy.
Public Information Coordinator