A new study of more than 60 downtowns across the U.S. and Canada places downtown Minneapolis at the top of the pack when it comes to an increase in visitors over the past year.

Downtown Minneapolis saw a 45.3% increase in visits in February 2024 compared to March 2023, according to the latest Downtown Recovery study by the University of Toronto’s School of Cities, which is based on cellphone data, which is more reliable than most other metrics.

Fifty of the 64 cities are “in an upward trajectory,” but only Minneapolis and 10 others “seem to be trending towards recovery,” with increases of at least 25%. The average rate is 9.3%. 

Rounding out the top five behind downtown Minneapolis are Ottawa (38%), Montreal (36.4%), Chicago (35.5%), and Louisville (32.5%).

A previous Downtown Recovery study in mid-2023 by the University of Toronto’s School of Cities determined that downtown Minneapolis was third to last in foot traffic recovery compared to the same period in 2019.

The latest data shows that foot traffic in downtown Minneapolis really picked up throughout June 2023 and peaked in July 2023. That activity was bolstered by two sold-out Taylor Swift concerts at U.S. Bank Stadium, Twin Cities Pride Festival in Loring Park and the Kiwanis International Convention at the Minneapolis Convention Center, all late last June.

READ MORE: Minneapolis Downtown Council shares its annual year in review for 2023

Karen Chapple, director of the School of Cities at the University of Toronto, told KARE11 that foot traffic in downtown Minneapolis “continued on a positive trajectory through the fall and winter,” thanks in part to Minnesota Timberwolves games at Target Center.

Still, while foot traffic surges on weeknights and weekends, downtown Minneapolis continues to struggle during the workweek. After-work activity has nearly returned to pre-pandemic levels, but activity during typical working hours (8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday) hasn’t even reached the halfway point in its rebound, according to another Downtown Recovery report from the School of Cities.

Occupancy in downtown Minneapolis’ largest office buildings is around 65%, according to the latest figure from the Downtown Council.

A recent report from Cushman & Wakefield, an international commercial real estate company, placed office vacancy at more than 31% throughout downtown Minneapolis, as reported by Axios.

The University of Toronto’s School of Cities plans to update its downtown foot traffic data every month through 2024.