What happens when your district is not generating foot traffic to sustain your existing retailers? The impact is twofold: 1) your existing businesses struggle, and 2) you also have a heck of a time attracting new retailers to your district. When retailers visit a district and they see vacancies and struggling stores, all they see is risk. Retailers are like sheep. They like to follow other retailers, and in their mind there is nothing riskier than opening in a district where every other store is struggling.
For districts that are challenged, traditional advertising in form of newspaper ads is often not effective, because really, if you have a poor selection of stores, what are you going to market in the first place? Your goal should instead be to have an impact on existing stores and generate traffic, and ultimately RETAIL SALES. The only way to do this is with "event marketing". Event marketing is about planning and executing specific shows that bring people into the district on a regular basis. The goal is to ensure that visitors end up shopping in some of the stores.
This sounds simple, but you would be surprised. I have visited too many communities that miss the rationale of event marketing. Instead, they stage their events a distance away from their stores. The logic seems right at the time - they've got a great public park or open space a block or two from the district, so why not use it? The problem is that the stores do not benefit if shoppers are not in a businesses line of sight. Because a store that is out of sight is also out of mind. No wonder the businesses were griping about paying assessments to their business improvement district - they never seemed to benefit from the efforts of the BID!