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Crowds, record day of revenue point to comeback on Chicago's Magnificent Mile

Things are looking up on the Magnificent Mile, organization says
Things are looking up on the Magnificent Mile, organization says 01:58

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The lights along the Mile are bright - and to visitors along Chicago's Michigan Avenue, it's all a sight to see.

"I really like the lighting, and it looks really nice," one visitor said. "It makes you want to take a walk."

"It's something you want to experience at Christmastime," another said. "It really gets you into the mood."

And it turns out the Magnificent Mile is still drawing the crowds.

"If you love shopping, this is the place," said a visitor.

According to The Magnificent Mile Association, a record $31.7 million in revenue was set in November on a single day.

That was when more than 700,000 people came out for the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival.

"We saw that economic spark that makes a lot of hearts warm up here for our retailers," said Justine Fedak, chair of The Magnificent Mile Association.

Fedak said the shoppers have not led up.

"We're seeing people spend more and more time on the Mile," she said.

And while the Mag Mile is seeing more people venture out this holiday season, one thing they still have to work on getting more businesses to come into the many vacant storefronts.

"There are people that believe this isn't the environment they once remember," Fedak said, "but it's evolving - and it's offering new opportunities."

Among the new stores and businesses on the Mag Mile are Alo Yoga at 717 N. Michigan Ave., a Christmas-themed holiday shop next to the Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile, and a Mugsy Jeans at the Shops at North Bridge.

Collars & Co., a shark tank winner and the first physical store for the retailer, also opened at the Shops at North Bridge recently, according to The Magnificent Mile Association. The association is also working with the City of Chicago to bring two more new stores from Chicago neighborhoods to the Mag Mile next year.

Fedak understands the Mag Mile sometimes gets a bad rap.

"The perception is not really the reality," she said.

This week, thieves drove a car into the Nieman Marcus store at 737 N. Michigan Ave. They did not get inside the store.

But while smash-and-grabs – and crash-and-grabs - are spiking, data show thefts on the Mile are down overall.

Through November this year, there have been 542 thefts on the Magnificent Mile. Last year, there were 595.

When one compares that to before the COVID-19 pandemic, retail theft on the Mag Mile amounted to well over 1,000 cases annually. There were 1,095 retail thefts on the Ma Mile in 2017, and 1,083 in 2018.


And when it comes to safety, people say they feel safe walking around the Mag Mile.

"It's a big city," a woman said. "You just need to pay attention like anywhere else."

And the crowds are not letting up.

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