WTF Lists: Philadelphia Ranked #2 Shopping City In the World (Huh?)

Condé Nast Traveler gives Philly a high—but questionable—ranking.


Ninobrand and Commonwealth Proper, two of Philly’s top shopping spots. | Photos by Courtney Apple.

Well, here’s a distinction that raised some eyebrows around the office: a Condé Nast Traveler reader’s choice list ranked Philadelphia as the second-best shopping city in the world. Let that sink in for a moment.

Yep. There we are, nestled right between Barcelona, Spain, and Hong freaking Kong. We beat out Tokyo (#19), Houston (#16), Florence (#11), and Paris (Paris!) which came in at a head-scratching #23. The last of the 24 cities on the list? New York City.

No one beats the ‘Philly is an amazing shopping town!’ drum more than me. I love our retail landscape, from our national newcomers to our tried-and-true boutiques. Our shopping options are getting better and more varied each year. But #2 in the world? No way.

But what’s even weirder is the reasoning behind the ranking. The blurb calls out Reading Terminal Market which, yes, is an incredible local resource that all travelers should add to their must-go list, but hardly what one would recommend for those looking to shop. (Unless, of course, you’re shopping for Amish baked goods, meat and produce.)

The list spotlights North 3rd Street, too, specifically Sugarcube (noted here for its vintage, which is hardly the best reason to visit) and Minima, a modern furniture store. Glaringly absent from the list is high-fashion queen Joan Shepp, local atelier Ninobrand, womenswear stalwart Sophy Curson (go here for the history alone!), contemporary sportswear haven Knit Wit, jewelry box Egan Day, bespoke menswear studio Commonwealth Proper, top vintage shop Philadelphia Vintage & Consignment Shoppe, local bath and body store Duross & Langel, men’s accessory boutique ToBox, all of the Queen Village boutiques, especially Bus Stop, Bario-Neal, Armour and Brickbat Books, and Bella Vista’s antique mecca Anastacia’s. And, the elephant in the room, the King of Prussia mall, not in Philly proper, but close enough to warrant a day trip.

Could we someday be #2 in such a list? Perhaps. But we’re not there yet. Not even close. We need continued support for the boutiques and chains we do have, we need the shell of the Gallery to continue to attract higher-end retailers, so that the sad stretch of Market East becomes a destination, and a walkable, shoppable link between the vaunted Old City shopping district and our Center City spots.

Until then, a list like this spurs total confusion instead of pride. (Seriously, though. Philly a better shopping spot than Paris? C’mon, guys.)