Ever experienced that exhilarating surge of endorphins after purchasing something you truly love? You’re not alone. Often at the crossroads between being considered therapy or necessity, shopping remains a favorite pastime for millions of Americans who turn to shopping to relieve stress and uplift their spirits.

With the prospects of homeownership and early retirement more challenging than ever, many are prioritizing the immediate pleasures in life. A recent survey on consumer habits showed that people may engage in retail therapy as frequently as four times a month, with 66% acknowledging that shopping and spending have the power to significantly change their mood. Additionally, a different study indicates that 43% of millennials and 35% of Gen Zers are spending their savings on luxury goods as a way to deal with the uncertainty of the current economy. The luxury market consumer base is in fact projected to expand to 500M people by 2030.

When it comes to shopping options, there’s certainly a wide variety across the U.S., but some locations cater to their clientele much better than others. The best shopping experiences depend on a series of factors, from a broad range of store options to product diversity, purchasing power and competitive pricing, as well as the availability of store personnel to enhance the shopping journey.

To pinpoint the top destinations that offer the most satisfying and enjoyable shopping experiences, our StorageCafe research team looked at the things that can make or break your shopping plans. Diving deep into the latest data on retail from the U.S. Census, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Smart Growth America, and our sister companies CommercialEdge and Yardi Matrix, we’ve ranked the largest metro areas in the U.S. based on a series of factors, including:

  • Number of retail establishments per 1,000 residents
  • Number of retail employees per 1,000 residents
  • Retail square footage per capita
  • Local foot traffic
  • Household income
  • Household expenditures on retail purchases
  • Interest in luxury brands as illustrated by online searches
  • Population density

The study also contains availability data and pricing for local self storage options, as the service provides a way to maximize living space when your home simply does not have room for all your treasured belongings.

Interestingly, New York and Los Angeles, the two metros leading the country in fame and overall retail space, face serious contenders in offering the best shopping experience overall. Without further ado, we’re presenting the top 10 metro areas for shopaholics and fashion enthusiasts. Just make sure you wear some comfortable shoes on the way to retail bliss (some Louboutins will most likely do the trick).

Top 10 metro areas for shopaholics and fashion enthusiasts - Storage Cafe infographic

Whether you’re considering a move or just need a weekend getaway to break the routine, these destinations are perfect for avid shoppers seeking to indulge in some quality retail therapy. Join us as we explore what makes each of them great for your next shopping spree.

1. Greater Miami takes the crown as the ultimate shopper’s paradise

If shopping is on your agenda in Greater Miami, you’re in for a treat. You’ll find luxury brands gleaming from the outdoor complex displays, alongside chic boutiques and budget-friendly shops that meet all your shopping desires.

With its diverse selection of shopping options, including Florida’s largest mall, the Miami area is anything but short on places to shop. In fact, it has the largest number of retail stores per 1K residents of all analyzed metros: 8,891 establishments spread across the area, offering 1.45 stores for every 1,000 residents. As one would expect, Miami residents and visitors alike have a soft spot for fashion, and the city delivers: of the total number of retail stores, nearly 4K are dedicated to clothing and accessories alone.

The second-most popular category for area shoppers is furniture and home furnishings with roughly 1,150 stores, followed by 800 merchandise stores sporting foods, hobby supplies and musical instruments, and bookstores with approximately 740 establishments.

Overall, retail in Miami covers nearly 326M square feet, roughly equivalent to the size of 5.7K football fields, offering a more than generous playground for every category of shopper. And what’s even better, shoppers in the area enjoy a relatively well-connected, walkable environment, with Miami ranking 10th in terms of foot traffic.

To ensure your shopping experience in the Miami area is nothing short of memorable, the local retail scene is serviced by at least 120K people. This translates into 19.56 employees per 1,000 residents — the second-best ratio among the 20 largest metro areas.

Costs in the meantime are kept at a relatively decent level, with Miami residents allocating roughly $7.6K on average annually toward retail spending. That’s approximately 10.7% of the local household income, much below the national average for retail expenditures, which sits at around 13% of the U.S. household income. In Philadelphia, for example, expenditures on retail eat approximately 15.6% of the household income.


The cherry on top for Miami is interest in luxury products. Miami is up there with San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York to make up the top places with the most online searches that involve brands such as Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga, Tory Burch, Gucci, Marc Jacobs and Rolex.

  • Where to shop in the Miami area

This is the city for those who find retail therapy necessary — whether they’re looking for a bougie luxury experience or would rather explore budget-friendly options. For the complete Miami luxury shopping experience, you could head to the Miami Design District to find every designer you can think of. Stroll through Bal Harbour Shops, the Brickell City Centre and don’t miss Lincoln Road, a walkable eight-block stretch of great shopping and dining in the heart of South Beach.

Miami Beach South Beach sunset in Ocean Drive Florida Art Deco

Miami is also home to Florida’s largest mall and the third largest in the U.S.: the famous Aventura Mall, also known as the shopping mecca. Dadeland Mall is another famous mall that you can’t go wrong with.

For great deals, head to Sweetwater and make a stop at Dolphin Mall, where you will find a lot of outlet stores fit for any budget. The mall is indoors, so it’s a good place to spend some quality time if the weather isn’t great. Dolphin Mall is also near the airport, so if you are a traveling shopper, you can always buy a giant suitcase to take your purchases home.

  • Flea markets, thrift shops and unique designer boutiques in Miami

Luxury shopping might be appealing, but for those who relish the thrill of discovering hidden treasures without breaking the bank, Miami’s vibrant thrift shops and flea markets are the places to be. There are at least 323 stores dedicated to used merchandise and endless thrift markets where you will find endless surprises — massively discounted items, fresh produce, timeless collectibles, vintage clothing, unique toys and even pet essentials, all under covered roofs and out in the open across Greater Miami and Miami Beach.

Woman browsing through vintage clothing in a Thrift Store.

When it comes to snagging sweet deals or uncovering vintage gems, look no further than spots like the Lincoln Road Antique & Collectible Market, the lively Tropicana Flea Market or the ever-popular Swap Shop. For a truly unique shopping escapade, explore the eclectic offerings at thrift havens such as Miami Twice or the charming Flamingo Plaza, where guilt-free shopping is practically guaranteed.

And let’s not forget the allure of Saturday morning drives, which often lead to scoring major vintage finds at neighborhood garage sales.

For those keen on supporting local talent and discovering one-of-a-kind creations, the Wynwood Marketplace beckons with its array of goods crafted by Miami’s very own designers and artists, all at enticing prices. Offering vintage tees to lush succulents and the perfect accessories, it’s a haven for those seeking both style and substance in the Magic City.

US Retail Insights: Trivia and Facts

Ever wondered about the vast amount of retail space in major US cities? Or perhaps curious about where your wallet can go the furthest? Dive into the answers to some of the most intriguing questions about shopping below!

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1. What are the biggest spending categories in retail purchases?

In the landscape of American retail spending, dining out steals the show, commanding 37% of spending at $3,639. Close behind, household furnishings and equipment claim 26% at $2,606, while fashion holds its own with 20% at $1,945. Personal care follows suit at 9% ($866), while housekeeping supplies tidy up with 8% ($787).

2. Which area in the US has the most retail space?

The New York metropolitan area tops the list in terms of retail space, with nearly 700 million square feet, reflecting its status as a major commercial hub. Following closely behind is the Greater Los Angeles area, with almost 550 million square feet of retail space, or in other words the area needed to build approximately 88,000 average-sized homes.

3. Which US metro area has the most retail stores?

The NY-NJ-PA tristate area reigns supreme with over 25,000 retail establishments. Following closely behind, the streets of greater Los Angeles hum with the presence of over 14,000 retail stores showcasing the city's vibrant shopping scene, while metro Chicago features over 9,000 bustling retail havens.

4. Which metro area spends the most and least on retail purchases?

The Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington metro area has the highest annual expenditures on retail, exceeding $13,000 per household per year. Following closely behind are San Francisco, Washington, and Denver metros, where an average of over $12,000 is dedicated to retail indulgences. Not to be overlooked, the Baltimore metro area commands attention with nearly $12,000 in retail expenditures.

Retail spending finds its modest echoes in Greater Miami, where approximately $7,500 finds its way into retail coffers. Meanwhile, the Detroit metro area follows suit with $8,400, with the Houston metro area and Tampa metro close behind at $8,600 and $9,100 respectively. The Atlanta metro area and Phoenix each contribute their share, with retail expenditures averaging $9,700 and $10,000 respectively.

5. Which areas have the most favorable retail expenditure-to-income ratio?

The San Francisco metro area is distinguished by the best retail expenditure-to-income ratio, with locals dedicating a mere 9.7% of their substantial household income – which is now clocking in at $128,000 – to retail indulgences.

Following closely behind is Greater Boston, where residents allocate 10.4% of their $104,000 household income to retail expenditures. Meanwhile, both the Washington and Miami metros maintain ratios of 10.5% and 10.7% respectively.

Rounding out the top five is the Seattle area, where residents allocate an average of 11.5% of their $106,000 income to retail expenditures.

2. Atlanta: a shopper’s haven with vast retail space and affordable shopping delights

With a population of over 6.2M and a density of 708 people per square mile, Atlanta seizes second place among the best areas for retail therapy in the U.S. Here you will find roughly 6.7K retail establishments, most of which are dedicated to clothing and accessories (2,514), general merchandise (1,017) and furniture (897). There are approximately 110K people working in the retail sector, meaning there’s a chance to find a smiling face ready to assist you at every turn.

Metro Atlanta has almost 305M square feet of retail space calling out for all window shoppers, boutique browsers and shopaholics to come in and shop until they drop. That is almost 50 square feet of retail space per resident.

Retail purchases call for lower expenses in Atlanta, with annual expenditures averaging $9.8K per household. This represents 11.5% of the local household income of nearly $85K.



  • What to expect from the shopping experience in Atlanta

In the neighborhoods of Greater Atlanta, you’ll discover a vibrant selection of boutiques and charming vintage shops alongside upscale malls offering luxurious shopping experiences.

Head west from Midtown for the lively atmosphere of Atlantic Station, an expansive mall that feels like a small town unto itself. Here, you’ll find plenty of ways to get a hit from retail therapy. With its pedestrian-friendly layout, Atlantic Station is perfect for families, and during the summer months it comes alive with concerts and festive events.

Another great area for a shopping escapade is Buckhead. You can start your shopping spree at the Lenox Square Market, a collection of stores catering to every taste and budget. Situated across from Phipps Plaza and surrounded by fancy hotels and enticing eateries, this mall offers merchandise from over 250 businesses, ensuring there’s something to capture your fancy.

If it’s posh brands you seek, set your sights on Phipps Plaza, home to the city’s most exclusive boutiques. Lose yourself in a world of extravagance as you browse through renowned names like Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue alongside elite designer labels including Tiffany & Co., Hugo Boss, Bottega Veneta, Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Hublot, Jimmy Choo, Valentino and Tory Burch, among others.

Make a stop at Decatur Square for unique art-inspired gift shops and charming bookstores, or wander down Virginia Avenue and Highland Avenue, where a vibrant neighborhood brims with locally made items. Alternatively, explore MET Atlanta, where artisan retailers and budding startups showcase their wares.

For all things artsy, head to Little Five Points, where you can spend an afternoon indulging in leisurely window-shopping, soaking in the sights of passersby and discovering hidden gems at thrift stores like Rag-O-Rama and The Clothing Warehouse.

And let’s not forget the Perimeter Mall, a go-to destination for myriad shopping needs. Whether you’re after fashion-forward attire, thoughtful gifts, delicious cuisine or stylish home decor, this north perimeter hot spot has you covered.

3. The St. Louis metro area offers the most retail square footage per capita

The St. Louis metro area emerges as a standout in numerous aspects. With a population approaching 2.8M, the region boasts a low population density of 356 people per square mile, securing its position as one of the most spacious shopping destinations, free from overcrowding. Boasting 2,894 retail establishments, equating to over one for every 1,000 residents, the area ensures ample shopping opportunities for its populace.

Moreover, with over 52K individuals employed in the retail sector, translating to at least 18 out of every 1,000 residents, St. Louis prioritizes a stellar shopping experience for its denizens.

Eclipsing other metros, Greater St. Louis clinches the top spot for the most retail space per capita, with retail establishments sprawling over a staggering 239M square feet. This translates to over 85 square feet of retail playground for each resident, putting St. Louis above many other urban hot spots including Greater Miami, Tampa-St Petersburg-Clearwater and the Houston metro area.

The annual expenditure on retail averages $10,497 in St. Louis. At 14.1%, this represents a big slice of the local household income, currently at $74,531. Only Philadelphia shoppers spend more on retail — roughly 15.6% of their annual incomes.

What-Do-People-Spend-Most-on-in_St Louis

  • Experience the quintessential American mall culture by venturing into the St. Louis area

From locally owned boutiques to diverse shopping centers, St. Louis has a great variety of shops offering apparel, accessories, art, housewares, books, handicrafts, foodstuffs and more.

Among St. Louis’s retail treasures, the iconic Saint Louis Galleria stands out not only as a massive shopping destination but also as a piece of the city’s rich history. Opened over 65 years ago, it holds the distinction of being one of America’s first enclosed malls.

For further retail therapy, venture to the outskirts of the city to explore West County Center, a complete shopping destination boasting over 150 stores. Alternatively, indulge in the latest fashions and modern amenities at Plaza Frontenac.

Young Female Customer Shopping in Clothing Store, Retail Sales Associate Helps with Advice

For a nostalgic journey through classic Americana vibes, visit Country Center, a beloved shopping mall established in the 1960s. With over 130 shops and restaurants, it promises a delightful blend of nostalgia and contemporary charm.

4. Denver shines as a shopping and organizing hot spot

With a population nearing 3M, the Greater Denver area hosts roughly 3K retail establishments, nearly one for every 1,000 residents. Particularly, clothing and sporting goods outlets capture the lion’s share of consumer interest, with 1,515 dedicated stores combined.

The sector is well prepared to assist avid shoppers, with a notable 19 people per 1,000 individuals employed in retail. Moreover, Greater Denver displays an expansive 148M square feet of retail space, equating to nearly 50 square feet per resident — an ample provision reflected in the average expenditure of $12K per capita on retail indulgences annually.

Adding to the city’s convenience, people enjoy a generous inventory of 8.3 square feet of storage space per capita in Denver. This abundance enables Denverites to securely house any items that simply can’t fit into their homes anymore, be it home goods, furniture, seasonal clothing or hobby-related belongings.


  • The shopping experience in the Greater Denver area

Step into the Greater Denver shopping scene, an area that will delight its shoppers with a great selection of malls, boutiques, antique stores and marketplaces.

Cherry Creek Shopping Center is well known as Denver’s premier shopping destination. With over 160 stores, including high-end fashion brands and dining options, Cherry Creek offers a well-rounded shopping experience.

For those seeking a blend of retail therapy and entertainment, Park Meadows Mall has a great atmosphere, a selection of over 185 retailers and an indoor skating rink, all in a subtle lodge decor — offering a refreshing twist on the traditional mall ambiance.

sale, consumerism and people concept - happy young couple with shopping bags going down by escalator and pointing finger in mall

Not your typical shopping destination, the Outlets at Castle Rock have earned local acclaim for their dog-friendly policy and unbeatable deals. Meanwhile, FlatIron Crossing in Broomfield captivates shoppers with its scenic views and a mix of popular retailers and specialty boutiques, all set in an open-air environment.

Venture off the beaten path to uncover hidden gems like Talulah Jones, a charming lifestyle boutique in Uptown Denver, offering handcrafted treasures that enchant the soul. Explore the art district’s eclectic antique shops or lose yourself in the whimsical wonders of the Golden Curiosity Shop, a delightful blend of museum and store, brimming with one-of-a-kind treasures.

And for a truly immersive shopping experience, look no further than the Stanley Marketplace in Aurora, where a vibrant community of over 50 independently owned Colorado businesses offers amazing options for dining, shopping, working or playing.

5. Greater Boston: a premier shopping destination with no sales tax on clothes

For a population of almost 5M residents, the Greater Boston area offers more than 5.1K retail establishments, or 1.05 stores per 1,000 residents, the fifth-best ratio among the country’s largest metros. In addition to a great selection of potential purchases, shoppers can also enjoy well-connected, walkable neighborhoods with the Boston metro area ranking second-best in the foot traffic index.

Girl walking in shoes in the city wearing a red dress. The photo is in Boston, Massachusetts for fashion brands or shopping boutiques.

Purchasing power seems to fly high in Boston. Local annual retail spending averages $10.9K, placing it in the middle range among the top 20 largest metro areas. Meanwhile, Boston’s average household income is $104,299, ranking fourth highest. This income level means that retail spending accounts for only 10.4% of local incomes, ranking Boston second in terms of efficiency in retail expenditures relative to income. Essentially, despite average retail spending, the high income in Boston allows for a lower percentage of income spent on retail, indicating strong purchasing power.

  • Where to shop in the Boston area

Further adding to the area’s appeal, there’s no sales tax on clothes in Greater Boston, which means updating one’s wardrobe becomes a tempting proposition. Malls and shopping centers cater to every budget, offering a diverse range of options.

For instance, Cambridge Side Galleria stands out as an urban mall with plenty to explore. For shoppers who can’t resist a good sale, the suburban Natick Mall is where they will find a mix of upscale stores catering to the most selective tastes, as well as affordable yet stylish merchandise.

Merrimack Plaza holds a special place in the hearts of locals, while Beacon Hill beckons those in search of charming, one-of-a-kind boutiques. And if you find yourself with some time to spare, why not meander along Mass Ave in Cambridge? Here, you’ll discover small businesses offering unique items not typically found in larger stores or malls.

The Wrentham Village Premium Outlets invite all bargain hunters to indulge in alfresco retail therapy, offering discounted designer goods in an outdoor setting. Some might also want to venture beyond the city limits to Faneuil Hall or nearby malls.

6. The Twin Cities emerge as a retail powerhouse with significant shopping potential and the largest retail workforce

Ranking sixth among our top destinations for retail therapy, the Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington metro area is well equipped to offer shoppers an exhilarating experience. With a population density of 524 people per square mile, the area is a great option for avoiding crowds.

There are more than 3.5K retail establishments to choose from, and there’s plenty of store personnel to assist with your every wish. In fact, Minneapolis has the largest cohort of retail employees, more than 20 per 1,000 residents, with the majority employed in stores delivering general merchandise, clothing, accessories and sporting goods.

The total retail space in the area spans over 171M square feet, providing residents with an average of more than 46 square feet each.

Local retail purchases call for roughly 12% of the average household income — now sitting at $91,341.

  • Shopping in the Twin Cities metro area

For a full day of shopping, head southwest of Minneapolis to the city of Edina, where a shopper’s haven awaits. Explore the 50th & France shopping district or the Edina Galleria, an indoor mall boasting charming designer stores, independent boutiques and small chains.

In nearby St. Paul, Grand Avenue beckons with its array of classic and high-fashion stores, sure to elevate your serotonin levels.

For those seeking unique preloved items and antiques, Downtown Stillwater proves to be a coveted destination, with countless interesting stores, fashion boutiques and charming shops awaiting discovery.

And while Uptown Minneapolis has evolved from its edgy roots into a hub for both independent and chain stores, it remains one of the Twin Cities’ coolest shopping destinations, offering ample opportunities to take your credit card for a spin.

7. Exploring Greater Los Angeles: a top spot for fashionable retail experiences

In the vast expanse of the Greater Los Angeles area, where the population density reaches 2,652 individuals per square mile, retail reigns supreme. The region exhibits an impressive 547M square feet of retail space — second only to the New York metro area — which amounts to 42.5 square feet of retail haven per resident.

Delving deeper into the retail landscape that counts over 14K establishments and no less than 6K stores catering to their sartorial needs, it’s no surprise that Angelenos have a penchant for fashion and accessories. Meanwhile, roughly 1.4K establishments specialize in sports goods, hobbies and musical instruments, while nearly 1.6K offer an array of furniture and home furnishings. Cosmetics and perfumes have carved out their niche with more than 1.1K dedicated stores.

Multiethnic group of girls shopping - Four beautiful woman having fun while buying some presents in a mall in Beverly Hills

Behind the scenes, the retail sector has a busy hive of activity, employing over 218K individuals who make shopping in the Greater LA metro area all the more pleasant. That also means nearly 17 out of every 1,000 residents are employed in the retail industry, fueling the region’s economic engine.

Beyond the sheer volume of offerings, Greater LA stands out for the high-end side of retail, boasting the second-highest number of Google searches for luxury brands among all analyzed metros. A remarkable average of over 1.7M monthly searches showcases Angelenos’ fascination with luxury. Louis Vuitton leads the pack with more than 300K searches, trailed closely by icons like Gucci, Tory Burch, Chanel and Dior, each garnering significant online attention.

  • Where to shop in the Greater LA area

Navigating the shopping scene in LA can feel as overwhelming as selecting the perfect coffee spot in this huge city. With an abundance of retail stores and coffee shops, it’s easy to get lost in choices. However, amid overwhelming variety, there are certain destinations that stand out and are worth dropping a wallet’s worth.

At the forefront is The Grove, hailed as LA’s crème de la crème of shopping malls, exhibiting a curated selection of only 50 hand-picked retailers. Then, venture to Century City, nestled in the heart of the city, or head to the South Coast Plaza, a titan in both size and variety. Picture endless rows of shops adorned with glossy window displays, surrounded by a sea of enthusiastic shoppers. With nearly 300 stores to peruse, albeit predominantly chain stores, conquering it all in a single day might be an impossible quest.

The Third Street Promenade offers yet another haven for retail therapy, embodying the laid-back LA atmosphere. Here, shops complement the relaxed vibe, boasting names like Urban Outfitters, GUESS, Armani Exchange and many more.

For the ultimate Hollywood shopping experience, head to Hollywood Boulevard or the Americana, both locations offering some of the very best shopping in LA.

Additionally, there is a reason LA is the unofficial capital of thrifting as it offers plenty of opportunities to hunt for hidden gems at renowned spots like Wasteland, Buffalo Exchange, Crossroads and a plethora of other vintage clothing stores scattered across the city.

Thrifting enthusiasts span beyond just bargain hunters — it is now also a crowd of environmentally conscious individuals who frown upon fast fashion and embrace the sustainability of repurposing preloved items. If you’re on the lookout for more, Los Angeles also boasts vibrant flea markets like the Rose Bowl Flea Market, Melrose Trading Post and Fairfax Flea Market, each offering a unique experience.

8. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metro area offers a one-of-a-kind shopping experience and plenty of space to store your retail belongings

In the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metro area, a population of 7.9M is served by 7,732 retail establishments. While this figure may not compete with NYC or LA’s offerings, the DFW metroplex distinguishes itself with an impressive 409M square feet of retail space, offering more than 51 square feet for every resident.

With a hefty household income averaging almost $83K, Dallas area residents devote over $10K annually (12.5% of their average income) to retail expenditures alone.

Cowboy boots on a shelf in a store, front view

Moreover, the area leads the top 10 with the best ratio between self storage cost-effectiveness and local options. There are more than 10 square feet of storage per capita, whereas the average rent for a non-climate-controlled 10’x10’ storage unit stands at $100 per month.

  • Where to shop in the DFW metroplex

The DFW area is renowned for its vibrant and diverse shopping scene, offering something for every shopper’s taste.

For example, in this area you will discover one of America’s oldest shopping centers, Highland Park Village, which serves as a hub for upscale boutiques such as Fendi, Chanel, Hermès and Dior. Nestled in the suburb of Highland Park, it stands as the city’s most fashionable destination and the country’s oldest open-air shopping center, established in 1931.

Embark on your retail therapy journey in the vast expanse of NorthPark Center, a 2M-square-foot shopping utopia boasting over 235 enticing stores, endless dining options and a state-of-the-art, 16-screen AMC theater. And while you’re still in North Dallas, don’t overlook Galleria Dallas, featuring over 200 retailers, including many iconic brands you know and love.

For those in pursuit of unbeatable deals, venture into the Shops at Park Lane for an open-air shopping, dining and entertainment extravaganza. Here, you’ll discover an array of discount stores and outlet boutiques to satisfy your bargain-hunting desires.

Venturing farther, explore the expansive 1.6M square feet of retail paradise at Stonebriar Centre, a mega mall housing over 180 stores and eateries. Whether you’re in search of the latest trends or simply indulging in a day of leisurely shopping, the DFW area promises an unforgettable experience.

9. The NY tristate area still shines as a go-to place for avid shoppers

The historic mecca of all things retail, the New York-Newark-Jersey City metropolitan area is home to more than 25K retail establishments. That translates into 1.27 establishments per 1,000 residents, ranking second best in the store-to-buyer ratio.

Shopping girl with red bag and smartphone in Manhattan

With global brands and labels at every turn, attractive local boutiques and an endless list of malls and outlets just beyond the city limits offer ample opportunities to indulge in retail therapy. In fact, New Yorkers and New Jerseyans spend $11K on retail yearly — a significant share of their average household income of $91.5K. Additionally, the NY-NJ area takes the first spot for walkable urbanism with a 100 score in the foot traffic index.

The fascination with luxury is also at home in NYC with a staggering 2.6M monthly searches for luxury brands that position it second among the 20 largest metro areas in the U.S. with the most luxury searches per capita.

  • Where to shop in the NY tristate area

Every neighborhood in New York features its own best areas for shopping. From the iconic shopping meccas of Fifth Avenue and the trendy boutiques of the Meatpacking District to the charming enclaves of SoHo, Williamsburg and Greenwich Village, each neighborhood presents its own unique shopping experience. There’s a reason people come from all over the world to browse the aisles and showrooms of NYC’s very best.

For residents, navigating the shopping scene in New York City can be both frustrating and costly. Thankfully, there’s a solution: explore the top outlets located near the city.

From New Jersey to Connecticut, destinations like Destiny USA, Smith Haven Mall, Palisades Center, Newport Centre or the Outlets at Bergen Town Center offer a wide range of products at affordable prices, including clothing, footwear, accessories, home goods and beyond.

When shopping in New Jersey, remember that articles of clothing and footwear are generally tax exempt, so feel free to splurge!

10. Sun, sand and shopping: Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater’s coastal charms

The powdery white sands, swaying palm trees and vibrant waterfront atmosphere are not the only attractions of the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area. A great shopping experience awaits, too, securing this charming metro’s place among the top 10 destinations for retail therapy.

The area boasts more than 3.4K retail establishments and approximately 54K people employed in the retail sector, ensuring local shoppers have a positive experience during their retail therapy sessions.

The Tampa area ranks fourth in the expenditure on retail department, with an average of $9,100 dollars spent on retail annually. That represents a rather large share — 13% — of residents’ household income.

  • Shopping and sunbathing

In the heart of Tampa lies Hyde Park Village, an upscale shopping destination sprawled across six blocks of retail paradise. Stroll down its one street and indulge in the diverse, upscale boutiques and eateries. For a grander shopping experience, venture to the International Plaza, boasting over 200 high-end retailers under one roof. Alternatively, lose yourself in the charming streets of Ybor City, where eclectic shops and boutiques await.

If your shopping appetite still craves more, journey to northeast Tampa’s Shops at Wiregrass, a quaint village-style mall housing over 100 retailers.

Embarking on a vacation to the St. Pete-Clearwater area? Fear not, as a plethora of eclectic shops await you. Explore the St. Pete Pier District, where independent vendors showcase their wares in charming kiosks, or wander down historic Corey Avenue in St. Pete Beach, where independent stores offer everything from jewelry to home decor and artwork.

Shopping for self storage: retail therapy hot spots also fare well in providing space away from home for prized possessions

The shopping habits of many Americans are not always compatible with their living spaces. For some, the prospect of house ownership is out of sight, and they turn to shopping to enjoy the now. But engaging in retail therapy means more stuff — often translating into less space to enjoy it without cluttering living spaces. That’s one of the reasons around 18% of Americans turn to self storage as a temporary alternative to store their belongings. Whether they are in the process of moving, downsizing or just don’t seem to have enough space in their homes for seasonal clothing, sports or hobby gear, self storage becomes a convenient and accessible solution close to home.

Luckily for shoppers in the best cities for retail therapy, self storage can act as an extension of their home space, with plenty of storage options at relatively affordable prices.

In Miami, self storage rent for a 10’x10’ non-climate-controlled unit is $152, and the area offers a generous seven square feet of storage per capita. Atlanta has even lower prices, starting at $105/month for a 10’x10’ unit, and the inventory is more than 10 square feet per capita, exceeding the national average of 7.5.

Self storage in the St. Louis metro has an average street rate of $93, and an inventory of 6.7 square feet per capita. Self storage in the Denver area has an average price of $124 for a 10’x10’ non-climate-controlled unit, and the local inventory exceeds eight square feet per person.

Self Storage Availability and Pricing in Top Metros for Retail Therapy

RankMetro AreaSelf Storage IndexSelf Storage RentSelf Storage per capita
1Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX1.0 $93 11.1
2Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX2.5 $100 10.8
3Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA4.0 $105 10.4
4St. Louis, MO-IL5.0 $93 6.7
5Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ6.0 $116 8.4
6Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL6.5 $116 8.3
7Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI7.0 $103 6.6
8Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO8.0 $124 8.3
9Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI10.0 $108 5.5
10Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL11.0 $152 7.0
10Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI11.0 $114 5.5
12Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD11.5 $128 6.4
13Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA12.0 $157 7.0
14Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV13.0 $143 5.7
15Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD14.0 $126 5.1
16San Diego-Carlsbad, CA14.5 $174 6.2
17Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH16.5 $148 4.8
18San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA18.0 $207 5.1
19Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA18.5 $201 4.8
20New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA19.0 $186 3.9
StorageCafe analysis of Yardi Matrix data (December, 2023)

The allure of retail therapy continues to captivate hearts and minds, offering a respite from the demands of everyday life. With statistics highlighting its profound impact on lifestyle and behavior, it’s evident that shopping isn’t merely a transactional activity but also a means of self-expression and emotional fulfillment.

As our research delves into the fabric of consumer habits and preferences, we unveil the top destinations across the U.S. that promise unparalleled shopping experiences. From the abundance of retail establishments to the richness of product offerings and the vibrancy of local communities, these cities embody the essence of retail excellence.

Here's the full list of the 20 metro areas we examined, along with the key factors that guided our ranking based on the quality of the shopping experience.

What the experts are saying

Check out expert opinions on retail therapy and the key factors shaping shopping behaviors:

Doug Ressler, Business Intelligence Manager at Yardi Matrix

How do you perceive consumer sentiment these days?

Doug Ressler, Business Intelligence Manager at Yardi Matrix
Doug Ressler, Business Intelligence Manager at Yardi Matrix

There are several positive signs in today’s economy, including a robust job market and lower inflation. However, many Americans are feeling the pinch of rising living costs. In response to this economic uncertainty, many are turning to immediate reward activities, including shopping.

Shopping has evolved from its “practical buy” days to become a showroom-like, customer-centric experience. Recent research shows that spending on "personal interest payments," excluding home mortgages, surged by 43% over the 12 months ending in November, nearly doubling as a share of total consumption expenditures.

How are retailers adapting to these shifting shopping trends?

Buyer intent is stronger than ever, but this change in shopping behavior and expectations is driving retailers to undergo significant transformations. For some, this means shifting towards luxury offerings to compensate for sluggish department store sales. In a notable move, Macy's is focusing on optimizing and right-sizing operations. It recently announced plans to close 150 underperforming stores, about 30% of its fleet, while opening 15 higher-end Bloomingdale’s stores and 30 luxury Bluemercury cosmetics locations.

Kathleen Vohs, Distinguished McKnight University Professor; Land O’Lakes Professor in Marketing, Carlson School of Management

Is retail therapy a common behavior?

Kathleen Vohs | Carlson School of Management Distinguished McKnight University Professor; Land O’Lakes Professor in Marketing
Kathleen Vohs | Carlson School of Management

I suspect it is quite common, although I do not know of any data that speak to how common it may actually be. I assume that it is fairly common since anecdotal evidence would indicate that many people have engaged in retail therapy, at least from time to time.

What might be underlying reasons for someone engaging in retail therapy?

Well, typically, when someone engages in retail therapy, which I’m going to define as shopping, for the purposes of improving one’s mood, the underlying reasons are that they either are feeling in a negative mood, and they want to get out of it, or they are feeling in a positive mood, and they want to maintain that.

Those are two of the most fundamental goals that people have regarding their emotional states. And a lot of human behavior is really based on getting out of negative moods and getting into positive ones, or maintaining a positive mood, so I suspect that’s what’s happening here, too.

I mean, certainly, engaging in behaviors such as retail therapy in order to feel better can have a positive effect. People need to regulate their moods so that they can maintain mental health and accomplish the goals that they need to throughout the day. Of course, there are possible negative sides to where the behavior just becomes really more of an emotional crutch, and that the negative moods in that particular instance are not being dealt with directly, but rather, going shopping is just used as an emotional Band-Aid.

How can someone strike a balance between enjoying shopping and avoiding shopping addiction?  

Well, shopping addiction is a very high bar to achieve. And so, I think many people can enjoy a balance between shopping and not getting into troublesome behaviors. Shopping addiction is something that would really happen over a long period of time and with quite an early, really intense set of behaviors that are problematic for one’s health and financial well-being.

My guess is that maybe I think what you’re trying to get at is sort of how people can use shopping in a way that’s not problematic. And for that, I would say if people are going shopping, in many instances in order to get out of a negative mood, then that can be a problem because it sounds to me like they’re not dealing with the negative mood and its causes directly.

Dan Ariely, New York Times best-selling author of “What Makes Rational People Believe Irrational Things” and “Predictably Irrational

Is engaging in retail therapy a common behavior?

Dan Ariely New York Times best-selling author of “What Makes Rational People Believe Irrational Things”
Dan Ariely | New York Times best-selling author

Retail therapy serves multiple purposes. Firstly, it boosts our mood by providing the satisfaction of acquiring something new, offering a temporary source of happiness. Additionally, it serves as a coping mechanism, counteracting feelings of helplessness, particularly in times of uncertainty such as during the COVID-19 pandemic, conflicts and economic instability.

What might be the underlying reasons for someone engaging in retail therapy?

Shopping is an intriguing process that grants individuals a sense of control. Through transactions, whether using a credit card or another means, there’s a tangible shift of ownership from the seller to the buyer, reinforcing a feeling of agency.

How can retail therapy influence a person’s emotional well-being?

Beyond the immediate gratification of obtaining desired items, retail therapy fulfills a deeper need for control, which is highly significant for psychological well-being.

While retail therapy is common and can provide short-term relief, it’s akin to a temporary solution, similar to a Band-Aid that doesn’t address underlying issues.

How can someone strike a balance between enjoying shopping and avoiding shopping addiction?

Finding a balance is essential. Instead of relying on shopping therapy excessively, individuals should understand its role in providing happiness and a sense of control. This involves prolonging the decision-making process, savoring the anticipation and enhancing the feeling of control.

Emphasizing moderation rather than complete avoidance, people can benefit from retail therapy by engaging in it conscientiously and at a level that aligns with their needs and circumstances.

Patricia Huddleston, Director, Information and Media PhD Program, Professor of Retailing, Department of Advertising and Public Relations, Michigan State University

Is engaging in retail therapy a common behavior?

Patricia Huddleston | Director, Information and Media PhD Program

A recent survey by Deloitte found that 80% of consumers surveyed splurged in the past month to improve their mood, which was consistent across income categories. This survey also found that men were as likely to engage in retail therapy as women.

What might be the underlying reasons for someone engaging in retail therapy?

I coauthored a book (“Consumer Behavior: Women and Shopping” — Chapter 5, Business Expert Press, New York) that identified retail therapy as an underlying motivation for shopping.

There may be two underlying reasons for engaging in retail therapy. Compensatory compensation is when someone uses a purchase to fill a need that can’t be satisfied in another way. Another way to look at it is that retail therapy helps fill a void. The other reason to engage in retail therapy is to overcome a bad mood. This is called mood-alleviative consumption.

Retail therapy shoppers seek social contact when they shop and view shopping as a way to deal with emotional needs. This shopper may shop to alleviate loneliness or boredom. Some use shopping to de-stress from busy and complicated lives. Browsing and finding something to buy makes the retail therapy shopper feel good.

How can retail therapy influence a person’s emotional well-being?

Based on the research in the book, browsing and buying can be a way to deal with anger, like after a fight with a significant other. It can also alleviate sadness; for example, some shop to help get over a breakup. When having a bad day, some will shop to feel better or build self-esteem, noting that trying on clothes makes them feel better about themselves. Others are adamant that buying something new improves their mood.

How can someone strike a balance between enjoying shopping and avoiding shopping addiction?

I believe these are two separate things. One can enjoy shopping without being addicted to it. Shopping involves more than buying. It includes browsing, which has touch and social aspects to it. Some enjoy touching merchandise and interacting with other shoppers or salespeople. These activities may occur independently of buying. A shopping addiction implies an inability to control one’s spending. To alleviate a shopping addiction may require professional help.

Angela Y. Lee, Mechthild Esser Nemmers Professor of Marketing, Faculty Director, Golub Capital Social Impact Lab, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University

Is engaging in retail therapy a common behavior?

Angela Y. Lee, Mechthild Esser Nemmers Professor of Marketing

It is more common than most people think. Most people understand that at least for some, if not for themselves, going shopping (even if it’s just window-shopping), buying things (especially splurging on indulgences) or consuming chocolates or ice creams could be mood enhancers (hence the descriptor “therapy”), even if the effect is only temporary.

The fact is that people engage in “compensatory consumption” even when they are not aware that they are using consumption to compensate for threatening experiences. For example, studies found that college students who thought they were not very intelligent (they found out they didn’t do too well on a cognitive task) were more likely to pick a pen over some chocolates as a token of appreciation for participating in the research study; people who felt powerless were more willing to pay for luxury items that are status symbols (but not for utilitarian products); people who were not sure about their compassion were more interested in reading the biography of Mother Teresa.

The motives behind these consumption choices are not accessible to the consumer.

What might be the underlying reasons for someone engaging in retail therapy?

At one level, just doing something different can serve as a distractor so that people might temporarily set aside whatever is making them upset or depressed. Further, shopping could be a fun activity — going to the mall, browsing through different offerings, discovering new products and services.

At a deeper level, the type of products people consume could help to compensate for whatever they feel threatened about. The examples I offered above fall under the category of “same-domain compensation.” Sometimes people also engage in different-domain compensation. For example, people may choose to engage in consumption activities that allow them to connect with others, regardless of what caused the threat or anxiety. Or people may choose to engage in consumption activities in a domain that is important to them (e.g., creative activities, climate action).

How can retail therapy influence a person’s emotional well-being?

If done right, it could stabilize one’s mood, reaffirm the self-identity and allow one to get past whatever is bothering them and move on. But if retail therapy is combined with lack of self-control, it might do more harm than good. The regret and potential negative financial consequences could make things worse.

How can someone strike a balance between enjoying shopping and avoiding shopping addiction?

The key is self-regulation (or self-control). Having a positive view of the self is helpful so that even when things don’t go well, people do not feel so threatened that they need to rely on shopping to compensate for what they feel they lack.

Also, research has shown that when people approach problems in a way that matches their fundamental motivation, they have better self-control. Some people care more about growth and accomplishments (they are promotion oriented), and others care more about safety and security (they are prevention oriented). For the promotion-oriented consumers, thinking about what they could do to make sure everything goes right strengthens self-regulation; for the prevention-oriented consumers, thinking about what they could do to make sure nothing goes wrong strengthens self-regulation.

Dan Jin, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Retail, Hospitality, & Tourism Mgmt. University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Is engaging in retail therapy a common behavior?

Dan Jin, Ph.D. Assistant Professor
Dan Jin, Ph.D. Assistant Professor

Retail therapy is essentially using shopping as a way to boost one's mood or cope with negative emotions. There are a few reasons why people turn to it. Firstly, shopping can provide a temporary distraction from stress, sadness, or anxiety. It's like a quick pick-me-up. Plus, buying things allows individuals to express themselves and feel a sense of control over their environment. And of course, there's the social aspect too - seeing others with nice things might make someone want to indulge themselves a bit.

What might be the underlying reasons for someone engaging in retail therapy?

People indulge in retail therapy for a multitude of reasons. For starters, it offers a breather from feeling low or overwhelmed, allowing them to manage their emotions. Additionally, shopping serves as a means to express oneself and boost self-esteem. Moreover, witnessing what others possess might spur them to pamper themselves as well.

How can retail therapy influence a person's emotional well-being?

Well, it can go both ways. On one hand, retail therapy can give someone a temporary mood boost and make them feel more confident and fulfilled. But on the flip side, relying too much on shopping can lead to financial strain and even guilt, especially if someone ends up overspending. Plus, it might not actually address the underlying issues causing the negative emotions in the first place. According to a recent survey from Deloitte spanning 23 countries and over 114,000 adults, nearly 80% admitted to making at least one splurge purchase in the past month to lift their mood. Interestingly, only 42% of them felt they could truly afford such indulgences. This indicates just how prevalent and impactful retail therapy can be, regardless of financial circumstances.

How can someone strike a balance between enjoying shopping and avoiding shopping addiction?

Setting clear limits and budgets is crucial. It's important to know when to stop and avoid impulse purchases. Also, recognizing what triggers the urge to shop and finding healthier ways to cope, like exercise or spending time with loved ones, can be really helpful. Before making a purchase, it's good to pause and ask yourself if you really need it or if you're just trying to fill an emotional void. Lastly, seeking support from friends, family, or a therapist if things start to feel out of control is key to maintaining a healthy balance.


This analysis was done by StorageCafe, an online platform that provides storage unit listings across the nation.

In this report, we ranked the major U.S. metro areas based on the following metrics: number of retail establishments per 1,000 residents, annual expenditures on retail, household income, population density, number of retail employees per 1,000 residents, retail square feet per capita, foot traffic ahead index, luxury brands related Google searches per 1,000 people and the self storage metric (calculated using a weighted score based on the rent for a 10’x10’ non-climate-controlled unit [in dollars] and the rentable square footage of self storage available per capita).

The number of retail establishments per 1,000 residents, household income, population density and number of employees in retail per 1,000 residents come from the U.S. Census. The annual expenditures on retail are based on a two-year average, 2021-2022, from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

To determine the retail square footage per capita, we turned to CommercialEdge, our sister company. We used data regarding self storage rent prices and availability from Yardi Matrix, StorageCafe’s sister division and a business development and asset management tool for brokers, sponsors, banks and equity sources underwriting investments in the multifamily, office, industrial and self storage sectors.

To uncover the online interest for luxury items per 1,000 residents, we used Google Ads Keyword Planner. The foot traffic ahead index was retrieved from Foot Traffic Ahead 2023 — Smart Growth America.

See complete list of metrics and weightings here.

Fair Use and Distribution

This study serves as a resource for the general public on issues of common interest and should not be regarded as investment advice. The data is true to the best of our knowledge but may change if amendments to it are made. We agree to the distribution of this content, but we do require a mention in return for attribution purposes.


Theodora is a real estate writer and lifestyle editor for StorageCafe and has a background in advertising and brand management. With a BA in Communication & PR and an MA in Social Media & Online Marketing, she is now focused on bringing her creative approach to the world of real estate. When out of the office, she can be found having an outdoor adventure.

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