Naperville continues to reign as the top suburb in terms of retail sales for the fifth straight year, according to a recent report.
The city in 2021 saw sales of $4.3 billion, $540 million more than No. 2 Schaumburg, according to the annual report from Chicago real estate and retail consultants Melaniphy & Associates.
Naperville rebounded $1 billion after sluggish retail sales of $3.3 billion in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the report. In 2019, the city recorded $3.5 billion in sales.
“Looking at the numbers from 2019 to today, we’ve made up all the ground and more, and I think that’s significant,” Christine Jeffries, president of the Naperville Development Partnership, told the Liquor Commission last week. .
Naperville passed Schaumburg in total retail sales outside of Chicago in 2017, according to the Melaniphy report.
Over the past decade, Schaumburg have beaten Naperville twice, in 2012 and 2016.
One of the biggest rebounds in Naperville’s strong retail sales has been in the restaurant and tavern industry, which also ranked first in the suburbs in 2021.
The report says the elimination of COVID-19 mitigation guidelines at food and beverage venues has finally allowed restaurants to begin their recovery.
For Naperville, restaurant and bar sales in 2021 hit a record $443 million, up 34% from the 2020 pandemic slump to $330 million after hitting $431 million in 2019.
“The change has been substantial. We’ve regained some ground and, like I said, we’re still number one,” Jeffries said.
What makes Naperville so strong, she says, is that the city keeps adding new restaurants.
“We don’t just cut this cake into smaller pieces. Our pie continues to grow,” Jeffries said.
Restaurants and bars, she says, have a halo effect. Not only do they attract customers to dine and drink, but they also shop and enjoy the entertainment the city has to offer.
By far, the biggest contributor to retail sales in Naperville is in the auto and gas dealership category.
In 2021, Naperville’s numbers rose 33% from the previous year to $1.7 billion, which was the largest percentage increase in the Chicago metro area, according to the report.
The city also beat Schaumburg by $333 million.
Over the past decade, Naperville has remained dominant in the sale of lumber, hardware and building materials, with sales steadily increasing each year and peaking at $241 million in 2021, according to the report.
No other Chicago suburb had sales above $200 million in 2021. The second-highest community was Cicero, which had home improvement sales of $135 million.
Home improvement was a category that was not negatively impacted by the pandemic, with Naperville hitting $192 million in sales in 2020.
The Melaniphy report says home improvement stores remained open because they were deemed essential, and many consumers were working from home and undertaking home improvement projects.
Naperville also ranked first in the grocery store category with sales of $437 million in 2021, compared to Joliet in second place with $317 million in sales, according to the report.
Although food sales have fluctuated over the past decade, overall they are trending upwards.
In 2012, Melaniphy reported that Naperville had grocery sales of $344 million, which peaked in 2020 at $450 million.
Jeffries said that with the city’s second Costco only opening in late August, Naperville won’t achieve a full year of sales until next year’s report is released.