commercial creep
(kuh.MUR.shul kreep) n. The gradual encroachment of commercial real estate into residential areas.

Example Citations:
In previous interviews with the Globe, Frank said the town is concerned about commercial creep in the Carlisle Road neighborhood, which abuts a commercial district. Another business in the neighborhood has also sought to change its zoning to commercial from residential, without success.
—Joyce Crane, "Day-care facility's victory appealed," The Boston Globe, March 6, 2003

In the cinematic experience, commercials shown before movies probably rate down there with trilling cell phones and stepping in that sticky amalgamation congealed on theater floors.

Miriam Fisch, an English and media studies teacher at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, has taken her disdain for pre-movie ads to a whole new level.

Her attorneys filed a class-action lawsuit Tuesday in Cook County against Loews Cineplex Entertainment, demanding money for moviegoers' loss of time and a change requiring the area's dominant theater chain to list the actual starting time of movies.

"I bust my butt to get to a movie on time to see a movie, and I feel like I'm a captive audience," Fisch said. "As a moviegoer, I'm perturbed by this commercial creep."
—Eric Krol, "If you don't like commercials at movies, why not sue?," Daily Herald, February 19, 2003

Earliest Citation:
The elderly woman in a T-shirt and Bermuda shorts pulled her grocery cart up short outside a supermarket in this quiet community of white-steepled churches and clapboard houses. Virginia Hodgkinson wanted her to sign a petition asking town officials not to allow construction of a new office park on 56 acres of open fields on the north end of town.

Mrs. Hodgkinson, co-chairman of the Save Fairfield Committee, a coalition of neighborhood groups that claims 5,000 members, believes the town is about to be destroyed by ''commercial creep,'' the intrusion of office development into residential neighborhoods. This petition drive involved the Collins Office Park, a complex that would draw 2,000 people to the area each day. The woman, Wanda Messick, signed her name on the pad. ''You live in a quiet little town all your life, and then there they go, rezoning just like that, putting up another office building,'' she said. —Andree Brooks, "Should Fairfield shut its doors?," The New York Times, June 16, 1985

Notes:
The phrase commercial creep is also occasionally used as a synonym for ad creep, particularly the annoying addition of multiple ads prior to movies shown in theaters.

Thanks:
Daniel Masler alerted me to this phrase.

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