Recent economic trends, including more than 750 new business openings, are positive signs for Santa Monica’s recovery

April 4, 2022 6:01 p.m.

SANTA MONICA, Calif. – Over the past year, the City of Santa Monica approved more than 750 new business permits in multiple areas. Recently released figures show that the unemployment rate in Santa Monica has fallen to 4.9% from a high of 16.1% in the spring of 2020 and that retail sales have increased in Santa Monica.

The city has taken important steps during the COVID-19 pandemic to support our local businesses, including streamlining the zoning process, creating more flexibility for the relocation of existing spaces, and extending fee waivers for meals in outdoor and retail through the Santa Monica Outdoors pilot program. . Positive economic data and trends underscore the impact of these efforts.

“We are excited to see the creativity and variety of new businesses open in Santa Monica,” said Santa Monica City Manager David White. “These businesses bring new energy to our commercial areas and contribute to the impressive variety of goods and services offered to our residents, employees and visitors. Local small businesses are the backbone of our community and their support generates jobs and resources for our schools and vital city services. »

Jennifer Taylor, Santa Monica Economic Development Officer and Chair of the Buy Local Santa Monica Campaign, added, “An inclusive and equitable economic recovery remains a priority for our city and we are pleased to see this growth in new business activity. We are on the steady path to recovery with more work to do. »

Santa Monica Economy

  • Recently released trends combined with new business openings show positive signs of growth for the Santa Monica economy.

  • The latest Santa Monica labor market data received by the city last week covers the period from April to June 2021 and shows upward trends in the total number of employees and the number of businesses operating. The total number of monthly employees in Santa Monica has steadily increased from 75,000 to 83,045 in June, with notable increases in accommodation and food services (4,819 new jobs) and arts/recreation/entertainment (891 new jobs). The total number of establishments/enterprises during the last quarter is 9,845 enterprises (compared to 9,769 in the first quarter).

  • According to the California State Department of Employment Development, the February 2022 unemployment rate in Santa Monica is now down 4.9% from a high of 16.1% in the spring of 2020.

  • According to the latest Santa Monica Sales Tax Report (HDL Q3 2021: July – September), Santa Monica saw a 26.2% increase in sales tax revenue compared to the same quarter of the year. last year (Q3 2021 vs. Q3 2020) with notable increases in the following sectors: Restaurants/Hotels (79.5% increase), General Consumer Goods (22%) and Autos/Transportation (22%).

  • Additional information about specific industries, top employers, and top sales tax products has been posted at

  • While Santa Monica is seeing positive signs for our local economy, it is important to put these trends into perspective as Santa Monica is in the initial phase of our economic recovery and the overall economy is not at pre-pandemic levels. .

The City’s recent financial projection included a loss of revenue of $188 million over a three-year period, the City’s reserves are 59% lower than they were immediately before the pandemic, and the budget for City capital improvements have been reduced by more than 50%, all having real impacts on city services.

New Business Trends

With so many new businesses welcoming, the City is seeing some exciting new business trends. In the past year, 103 restaurants and cafes, 92 health and wellness businesses, 73 retailers, 65 beauty businesses, 35 fitness/gym businesses, and 17 automotive-related businesses opened in Santa Monica. Some of our new restaurants offer more quality food in Santa Monica, including Ethiopian vegan dishes, Hawaiian taros and Japanese curries, which build on long-standing local business offerings, including the recently expanded Tehran Persian Market Market on Wilshire Blvd. and Indo Asian Foods Grocer on Pico Blvd.

More and more bike shops and mobility operators are also coming to Santa Monica, such as the famous Dutch electric bike shop Van Moof downtown, the stylish and affordable new electric bikes from Leon Cycles on Main Street, a new Ciclique, Inc. bike store is soon on Montana Avenue, and one of the city’s shared mobility operators, VEO, is opening its West Coast headquarters on the Third Street Promenade.

In-store sales are also showing positive signs. Data from the previous quarter showed elevated trends in online sales at the expense of in-store purchases. Retail today is as strong as online sales and hopefully will continue to grow. Purchases made directly from a local business (even if online but picked up directly) generate a higher proportion of sales tax revenue directly for the City and the revenue helps support local businesses and retain jobs in our community.

Sustainability continues to be a key focus for inbound business operations: Gnarwhal, a roaster of 100% organic coffee from small farmers, Vinfast and Tesla commit to reducing carbon footprint with new electric vehicles and charging stations refill, points out Buena Vida Tea Bar & Garden. sustainably sourced products, The RealReal offers opportunities to upcycle and recycle apparel, and more. Many of these businesses reflect Santa Monica’s ongoing commitment to economic sustainability, stewardship of the natural environment, and support for a circular economy.

For a complete roundup of some of the businesses we’re excited to welcome to Santa Monica, click here. For ongoing information on Santa Monica’s economic recovery, visit

Media Contact

Miranda Iglesias

Public Information Coordinator

[email protected]


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