Dear Members,

I have never been happier to welcome a new year. Cheers to 2021 and better news on the horizon! While we cannot determine the course of current events, we are determined to direct the narrative as much as possible and shape headlines in print and on TV. We are out in front, advocating for our members and the district to ensure we remain one of the great avenues of the world.

Following multiple reports by Crain’s Chicago Business, the latest column by Joe Cahill spells out clearly “Why Michigan Avenue Matters So Much.” He analyzed data supplied by the Association to conclude  “Michigan Avenue is a key economic driver for the city, creating jobs and flooding municipal coffers with tax dollars.” We could not agree more and will seek every manner of support that exists (or can be created) to make sure we reimagine the district as we rebound from the pandemic.

We received news this week of a modified Emergency Travel Order, which could allow us to welcome guests from farther afoot sooner than expected.  Effective January 15, anyone traveling from a state on the Orange list, which comprises most of the nation, can obtain a negative COVID-19 test result no more than 72 hours prior to arrival in Chicago in lieu of quarantining for 10 days.

We’ve also seen Mayor Lightfoot in the news advocating for our bars and restaurants to be able to reopen safely because of the decrease in the City’s positivity rate. That, in turn, could help hotels that are struggling with low occupancy rates and lead to a greater number of pedestrians in our district. 

These changes would be a meaningful step forward in a return to regional tourism and increased hospitality, and we hope numbers keep trending in the right direction. In the meantime, our district’s 110,000 residents, who have 10% of Chicago’s spending power, continue to support our businesses and we are grateful for their loyalty and commitment to shop local with our members.  

Disappointingly, store closures across the country reached a new high in 2020, totaling some 160 million square feet of vacancies nationwide. Nevertheless, during media interviews these past 10 days I have highlighted new members like the Immersive Van Gogh Experience and The Real Real, and creative partnerships like that of Gucci’s flagship at 900 Shops, which is one of few nationwide to host the “The North Face x Gucci.” These innovations are emblematic of the kinds of changes that will revitalize our district and ensure we are relevant for years to come.

The closings of Macy’s and the Gap are hardly welcome news but by no means is this “unprecedented.” We are experiencing the next wave of disruption in retail, and our stores’ ability to meld “clicks” with “bricks” and deliver an exceptional experience to customers will help us write the next chapter of Michigan Avenue’s story of being at the forefront of retail innovation and offering the very best Chicago has to offer.

Your Partner,

Kimberly Bares

President & CEO