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Retail Market Strategy Study

Recognizing the importance of retail to the County’s economic competitiveness, as well as its role in creating vibrant commercial areas, a countywide Retail Market Study was prepared by Streetsense, a Bethesda-based retail design and strategy firm. The purpose of the study was to assess the strengths, challenges, and competitive position of retail in the County to develop strategies that will foster successful retail centers and keep them poised for the future. View the full report.


The Study highlights many of the advantages that will make the county well positioned for the future, as well as its challenges and identifies areas of opportunity.

  • Overall, retail supply across Montgomery County is very well balanced with demand. There is neither the overabundance of retail that characterizes many of our neighboring jurisdictions, nor an undersupply.
  • The growth of e-commerce is reshaping every area of the brick-and-mortar retail industry, resulting in a period of potential upheaval in the near future.
  • Retail stores will need to be physically flexible and adaptable in their planning, development and construction to weather the constantly evolving trends in the industry.
  • Neighborhood goods and services – such as pharmacies, hardware stores, barber shops, and grocers – should be emphasized in mixed-use projects. A gap exists for neighborhood goods and services across most submarkets, and this retail category is more resilient to the effects of online shopping.
  • Design elements, walkability, and placemaking continue to be important ingredients for vibrant mixed-use and retail environments, especially as shoppers increasingly value retail as an “experience”.
  • Relaxing certain land use and business regulations could stimulate retail development, such as minimizing processing and approval times, permitting conditional uses, and considering additional changes to liquor licensing.
  • However, it is important to recognize these regulations can also have a positive effect in avoiding overdevelopment.

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Staff contact

Caroline McCarthy