Understanding the Re-urbanization Movement’s Impact on CRE


An important trend for commercial real estate professionals is being called re-urbanization. As the name implies, this is a return to city centers and less growth in suburban areas. It’s been gaining momentum for the past several years, and is driven by a variety of economic and social factors. It has some noteworthy implications for commercial real estate and how we do business.

A 2014 study released by Rutgers discusses the extent of this trend as well as the factors that have contributed to it. For about 30 years following World War 2, the U.S. population shifted, with more people preferring to live –and often also work- outside of the urban core. Longer commutes became the norm; single-family homes the ideal. City centers began to lose population, while suburban development proceeded apace.

Enter the millennial generation. Priorities for this demographic make living and working in the city center a perfect fit. This age group shows a preference for the convenience of renting as opposed to home ownership. They are interested in access to amenities that can be found in mixed-use urban areas –recreation, museums, dining, and entertainment.  They’re interested in sustainability, so a short or non-existent commute makes sense to them, ethically and economically. The economic downturn and, in many cases, burdensome student loans contribute to this attitude. All of these factors have prompted millennials to lead the “post-suburban demographic.” Another major group making switch to city living is retiring Baby Boomers. They are also looking to enjoy the amenities of the city without spending a lot on fuel and spending time driving into town. Proximity to top medical facilities, culture, and retail outlets are also a consideration.

Acknowledging the significance of this shift in population and the return to city centers, what are the implications for the commercial real estate industry?  There are many opportunities here, particularly with regard to residential redevelopment and increased retail activity.

As more people look to make their home in city centers, commercial real estate can find ways to adapt existing properties. This can involve residential buildings as well as underutilized properties built for other purposes. This often works hand in hand with the city government’s goals to revitalize neglected areas, so they are eager to work with developers. Creating livable urban neighborhoods is a win for everyone.

An important part of the desirable, mixed-use neighborhood is retail. More residents draw business –from dining and shopping to services. Re-urbanization is creating a lot of activity in retail spaces, as well as improvements in infrastructure that draw still more people.  With enthusiastic support from local government, we have to keep our heads to avoid over-development and market saturation.

The only way to make sound business decisions is from a point of knowledge. Gathering and analyzing information rather than relying on hunches or guesswork just make sense. Understanding traffic patterns at a property, both vehicle and pedestrian, provides key insights that drive sound decisions in this urban environment. Being able to share this information with clients and partners clarifies your position and keeps everyone in the loop. Using a platform like Motionloft hands you this powerful tool in an immediately usable form and keeps you informed around the clock.

So by all means, check into the opportunities for commercial real estate in urban centers. But rely on your own customized Motionloft data when it comes to the critical decisions you’ll face.




Motionloft Data to Assist in Transformation of Market Street

San Francisco’s Market Street Prototyping Festival kicked off April 9th through the 11th, and Motionloft was excited to be a part of the weekend festivities. The Market Street Prototyping Festival showcased some of the most groundbreaking public space ideas coming out of San Francisco, while also promoting engagement and interaction among pedestrians on Market Street.…

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Pounding The Pavement – What Pedestrian Counts Say About Black Friday 2014


Black Friday is highly anticipated by retailers with deals starting on Thanksgiving and culminating on the following Friday.

While much of the data reported about Black Friday revolves around sales, Motionloft’s pedestrian traffic data provides an important level of granularity into shopping habits in major urban shopping districts across the country.

 Motionloft counts pedestrian and vehicle traffic in the major urban centers in the United States.   Using our own devices, network and software Motionloft is able to give real data, in real time about pedestrian activity that give insights to consumer behaviors that are unique.


Did you know that?

1. Black Friday vs. a typical Friday – San Francisco and Chicago showed up in force on Black Friday with a 69% and 21% increase in traffic over typical Fridays (respectively).

2. Hawaii loves Halloween – Waikiki foot traffic was 10% higher on Halloween than it was for Black Friday and 20% greater than Black Saturday.

3. Doorbusting Isn’t the Trend – Black Friday pedestrian traffic started as early as 7:00 am as shoppers headed to urban retail destinations and hit high volumes as early as 10:00 am in New York, Chicago and San Francisco.

4. Black Friday peaks early – Black Friday traffic peaked around 4:00 pm (I guess those shoppers got tired after getting up early).

5. Turkey Not Deals – Although some stores in Chicago, New York and San Francisco were open Thanksgiving Day with deals, it didn’t pull shoppers into the stores. Foot traffic was down almost 17% over the average Thursday in the same locations. People were back for Black Friday spiking to 22% over the average Friday, in those cities.

6. People on the Streets – Peak pedestrian traffic for Black Friday hit about 3200 pedestrians per block per hour on average in NYC and Chicago, with San Francisco seeing slightly less at 2800 pedestrians per block.

7. Black Weekend – In San Francisco and Waikiki, Friday’s lift in shopping traffic continued through Saturday with a 31% and 3% lift from regular Saturdays (respectively).


San Francisco Pedestrian Data


What Profile Does Your Property Match?

At Motionloft we’re working with major retailers and property owners to provide pedestrian and vehicle data for high traffic locations across the country. From Union Square in San Francisco, to Fifth Avenue in New York, and the Loop in Chicago, the Motionloft network is currently counting over 1 million pedestrians a day!

Our engineers have developed a suite of tools to identify and analyze trends in this data.  These tools have helped our clients understand the impact of seasonality, marketing campaigns, and even construction on their properties’ traffic.

Through this analysis, distinct traffic patterns have emerged, and we have begun identifying profiles of different types of traffic. Below we have included a few examples from some of the more well-known locations across our nationwide network, and have classified them based on their trends. These patterns can be seen more clearly as we compare the average weekday daily traffic to the average weekend daily traffic.

What profile does your property match?


Dining and Nightlife

As you would expect, certain areas attract a higher volume of pedestrians during typical dining and nightlife hours. These areas have an uptick in pedestrian traffic later in the afternoon, with a sustained lift through the night on weekends.

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Tourist & Retail

Heavily trafficked retail and tourist destinations generally show fairly consistent weekday and weekend traffic patterns, with the weekend traffic carrying slightly longer into the nighttime hours.  They can be influenced by seasonality and generally have a later start than typical business or mixed use profiles.

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Business District

Business districts show two or three spikes during the week which is indicative of the two commute periods in the morning and afternoon as well as the lunch rush.  In general these areas have significantly less pedestrian traffic on the weekends.

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Mixed Use

Mixed use locations show a blend of traffic patterns you would expect to see for business districts, with a spike in the morning, lunch and evening on weekdays.  However unlike business districts, mixed-use locations also exhibit higher volumes of traffic on the weekends that would be more commonly associated with retail or tourist profiles.

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Having a thorough understanding of the traffic patterns for your locations helps you make more effective business decisions. This includes ensuring the right tenant mix during the site selection or leasing process, setting appropriate business and staffing hours, and taking advantage of your peak times for promotional efforts.

Interested in learning more about how your business or property can benefit from Motionloft’s real-time pedestrian and vehicle data? Contact sales or call (415) 625-0162, and we will be happy to answer your questions!

Motionloft New Tools and Features

The team at Motionloft has been hard at work to provide the best real world analytics tool and to improve subscribers’ business decisions with accurate pedestrian and vehicle traffic analytics.

Recently, Motionloft launched an all new look for our online application and introduced features which reduce time to insight, display data in easy to view formats, and allow you to better understand and compare locations. ‘Time to insight’ is how long it takes you to reach an insight – our data is provided in real-time and we believe that your insights should also be both instantaneous and continuous. With engaging visual tools, the Motionloft app is designed to get you to the right conclusion faster.

Motionloft’s Comparison Tool is all new and allows subscribers to easily compare data from two locations, side by side.

Comparison Tool

Motionloft’s Comparison Tool

The Business Hours Tool enables business owners to input their location’s business information and compare current store hours with proposed hours – this feature empowers retailers to maximize their location’s potential capture opportunity.

Operating Hours Analysis

Motionloft’s Business Hours Tool

In addition, shopping centers now have a comprehensive tool that intelligibly provides subscribers with an at-a-glance view of traffic flow in real-time and chronologically.

Bubble Map

Motionloft’s Shopping Center Data Display

The Motionloft team is continually working on providing more features that address your real world analytics needs. Eliminate the guesswork and take advantage of the best pedestrian and vehicle data analytics tool.

This post was originally sent to newsletter subscribers – to hear the latest news about Motionloft, sign up for our newsletter!

Walk to Work Day

walktowork2San Francisco hosted the nation’s first city-wide Walk to Work Day last Friday, April 12th in an effort from Walk San Francisco to promote walking as a sustainable and safe means of transportation throughout the city. Many local businesses joined in the event by offering treats and discounts to walkers and Show Dogs on Market Street hosted a Walk to Work Happy Hour in the evening. The Motionloft team monitored pedestrian activity during the Walk to Work event and we are pleased to share a few insights from our gathered data.

We compared Friday morning’s pedestrian activity with the previous month’s data, gathered during the same hours on Fridays. Walk to Work Day saw a 20% increase in pedestrian activity throughout the entirecity of San Francisco!  A few of the neighborhoods that saw a notable increase in pedestrian activity during the morning commute hours were Civic Center, SoMa, South Beach, and Union Square.

Though there was an increase in pedestrian activity between 7 and 10 am on April 12th, San Francisco’s vehicular traffic remained average for this time of year. The most significant change in pedestrian activity was seen during Show Dog’s hosted Walk to Work Happy Hour – commuters turned out in nearly double the numbers from previous Fridays between 5:30 and 7:30 pm!

The Motionloft team is looking forward to working with Walk SF in future Walk to Work Days and we are prepared for an even greater increase in participation with each passing year!

Black Friday’s Foot Traffic in Union Square

Nov 29 2012

San Francisco’s Union Square is a prime shopping location year round, so it comes as no surprise that Black Friday led to an increase in pedestrian traffic in Union Square as shoppers came out in droves to take advantage of discounts and deals. There was an increase in pedestrians per block per hour around midnight, when a number of larger chain retailers, such as Macy’s, Urban Outfitters, and Old Navy, opened their doors for the most dedicated midnight shoppers. Numbers of pedestrians passing by retailers declined in the following hours, as shoppers spent time inside stores racking up holiday deals. Most other Union Square retailers opened their doors between 8 and 10 am, which led to another increase in people moving from store to store.


Friday Activity in Union SquareWe have mentioned that statistical sampling is an unreliable means of assessing pedestrian activity and the 5 to 6 pm hour is a great example of why this is the case. If a hand count had been performed during that hour alone each Friday for the month of November, one could extrapolate that November 2nd had a higher pedestrian turnout than Black Friday (which is, obviously, incorrect). Similarly, vehicles counts by themselves are often insubstantial when determining the impact of sales and marketing campaigns in high foot traffic areas. Due to limited parking, shoppers in Union Square often park cars and move around on foot. A comparison of pedestrian and vehicle activity from Black Friday is shown below.

Black Friday Activity in Union Square

The combination of vehicle and pedestrian counts are vital to understanding when and how people are moving throughout shopping areas such as Union Square, San Francisco. It is by continuously gathering information that one can ensure the most accurate and reliable data analysis. This holiday season, view trends over time and know the true impact of marketing campaigns and sales. Don’t settle for adequate – get the entire picture with Motionloft data.