Local News

Retail Shopping Key To Durham's Healthy Economic Growth

Posted December 13, 2005 6:27 a.m. EST

— A new report shows Durham's economy is on solid ground.

The number of jobs is increasing, and construction is also on the rise.

And it turns out, more people take daytrips to Durham than anywhere else in the Triangle.

Although the Butterfly House, the Durham Bulls Athletic Park and Duke's campus are some of Durham's top tourist attractions, one of the county's biggest selling points may be the mall.

"Shopping is the No. 1 activity. It may not be the reason they come here, but it's the No. 1 activity," said Reyn Bowman, head of Durham's Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Since Streets at Southpoint opened its doors four years ago, retail sales in Durham have soared. This year, they've already passed the $5 billion mark. That's a 45 percent increase since 2000.

The mega-mall accounts for a lot of the retail increase: Southpoint attracts shoppers from around the state -- 14 million alone this year.

That number already matches last year's numbers, and the mall's busiest week is still to come.

Since Southpoint has come onto the scene, it's also managed to crank up competition.

"Lots of pockets in Durham have had retail pop up that never had retail," Bowman points out.

Places like Northgate Mall and Brightleaf Square are adding new stores and making major renovations.

"You can't say it's all because of Southpoint," Bowman cautions, "but, boy, it's a definite signal for people to look carefully at Durham."