The chicken or the egg, which comes first? It's the $10 million dollar question. In economic development we ask ourselves which comes first: retail or rooftops? What sparks city growth, more retail establishments or more housing units?
First and foremost, there must be jobs. People go where the jobs are. Housing develops where people are. Retail follows h_u_e_ (you got it!). The development chain always begins with people.
The conversion of rural areas and quaint communities into buzzing suburbs is the result of people desiring to live in quieter and less-congested areas outside of the city. These suburban cities take on identities of their own. The pilgrimage of new residents to the suburbs creates retail demand. Once established, retail attracts more retail.
In conclusion, people trigger the development cycle. No people means no rooftops. No rooftops means no retail.