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Why New York’s Retail Sales Are Flourishing

It is long rumored that the people of New York never sleep. But what do they do with all that extra time? Shop, apparently.

According to the New York Post, retail sales in New York state are doing better than ever and the high sales may be credited to the steady change of the retail scene.

“There is always activity as someone is looking to get in or out,” said Jedd Nero, director of retail at Avison Young, a Canadian-owned real estate solutions firm.

New boutiques, markets, and restaurants constantly replace one another, providing shoppers with new, tempting opportunities to spend a few bucks. The state’s decreasing unemployment rate could also be to blame for the boom. In September, the rate dropped from 5.2% to 5.1%, likely letting new workers participate in more recreational spending. Throw in the high amount of foot traffic the city receives, and it’s not hard to see why New York is flourishing.

But New York’s retail success comes at somewhat of a surprise as, according to the Census Bureau, much of the country is experiencing retail sales below expectations. Chicago saw year-over-year sales dip 1.3%, and in Pittsburgh, sales from the previous year were down 1.5%.

Additionally, retail and food services sales in the U.S. increased a disappointing 0.1% from August to September 2015, while the expected growth was closer to 0.2 to 0.3%. The low numbers could be due in part to a nationwide lag in new jobs, but in the words of Mitsubishi UFJ’s Chris Rupkey, analysts “aren’t sure what the consumer was doing in September.”

Still, a recent study found that 62 percent of Americans are limiting how much they spend each month. So are the low September sales a temporary setback for retailers, or a sign of decreased spending to come? According to UniCredit Research chief economist Harm Bandholz, retailers ought not worry. With a 1.8% rise in retail sales, more spending on cars, furniture, and hobbies, “the overall message is that consumer spending has remained extremely strong.”

As for New York? Booming activity in the retail market shows no sign of letting up.

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Retailers are moving into parts of Fifth Ave., where Victoria’s Secret has plans to open a 63,780-foot flagship and others are headed below 42nd Street and to the West Side.

“The stars are aligning on this corridor [the West Side] and at the Seaport,” Kim Mogull, CEO of Mogull Realty told the Post. There are plans in place for a Jean Georges restaurant and McNally Jackson books at the Seaport, and the downtown area could soon lure big box brands too.

The Whitney Museum’s opening, plus new office buildings on Washington St. and the redevelopment of a chunk of Gansevoort St. has triggered retail activity in the Meatpacking District.

Outside of the city, things are picking up in Brooklyn, namely Downtown Brooklyn, where Acadia and Washington Square Partners are building a 1.9-million-square-foot mixed-use building that will house a Century 21 department store, a Target and a Trader Joe’s, the Post reported.

Steinway Street in Astoria, Queens, according to Chris Conlon, executive vice president and COO of Acadia Realty Trust, will also see a resurgence of retailers.