Statewide annual survey measures public attitudes and engagement in downtown SLC 

Salt Lake City (December 16, 2020) – While the COVID-19 pandemic has deterred Utahns from visiting downtown in 2020, an annual benchmark survey indicates Utahns’ interest remains high for downtown’s arts, entertainment and dining experiences. One in five respondents said they would consider living downtown, citing the proximity of downtown entertainment amenities and work.

The annual statewide telephone survey, conducted by the Downtown Alliance in partnership with Lighthouse Research, queries Utah residents about their visits and opinions concerning downtown events, dining, arts, entertainment, shopping and living.

Other Downtown Alliance surveys indicate 90 percent of downtown merchants are open for business and over 140 restaurants and bars are providing dine-in and take-out services. These businesses are appealing to regional diners and shoppers as the traditional downtown customer base–workers, events patrons, business travelers–has dropped. Just one in four downtown office workers are working from their downtown office this month. Event and performance venues are currently dormant. And business travel and leisure tourism are below 30 percent of the normal volume.

“Downtown retailers and restaurants have suffered disproportionately in the pandemic as office workers and visitors have stayed home and event venues have been closed,” said Derek Miller, President and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber and Downtown Alliance. “These businesses have demonstrated creativity and grit in adapting to welcome customers safely. I encourage everyone to include downtown businesses in your holiday shopping and dining so that we can preserve these establishments that are pivotal to the fabric of our community.”

2020 survey findings include:

  1. While COVID-19 has reduced downtown visitation in key sectors (workforce, entertainment, tourism) Utahns’ interest in downtown arts and entertainment remains above average or at an all-time high.

  2. The biggest motivators for visiting downtown are performances, concerts and special events. Utahns also cited the appeal of downtown shopping and dining as reasons they come downtown.

  3. 23 percent of respondents said that traffic was a deterrent to visiting downtown.

  4. In the last six months, on average, respondents visited downtown three times for dining, twice for shopping and entertainment, and once for religious activities.

  5. There appear to be varying opinions about the pace of the pandemic recovery. 21 percent said they expected to visit downtown more often in the next 12 months; 22 percent expect to visit less; 55 percent expect to visit downtown at about the same frequency.

  6. One out of five Utahns would consider living downtown. Proximity to city amenities such as entertainment venues, bars and restaurants was the biggest driver. Additional affordable housing would encourage more urban dwellers.

View the survey results here.

The Downtown Alliance is dedicated to building a dynamic and diverse community that is the regional center for culture, commerce and entertainment. For more information, visit