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Yesterday, the Real Estate Board of New York reported what anyone who waited outside the Disney Store for today's grand opening probably knows intuitively: Thanks to tourism, certain areas of Manhattan have become very valuable to retailers, and it's created an influx of mall brands.
People from out of town come here to shop stores they recognize from home, and their business inflates rent to the point where the only other companies that afford to move into the neighborhood are major nationwide chains. So on the one hand, it's great that asking rents are up in Times Square, in Soho, and on Fifth Avenue despite the recession, but on the other hand, it's bad news for retail diversity.
Post columnist Steve Cuozzo points out yet another reason not to get too excited about REBNY's findings. Asking prices might be up, but New York is still plagued by retail vacancies. The Cuozz diagnoses the city with a chronic case of serious commercial real estate dysfunction, pointing out that Oxford Street in London "has twice as many giant department stores as does all of Manhattan." Are we really going to let London steal our title as the best shopping city in the world? Come on, people, let's start filling these holes with stores!
· Prime rents seen as Manhattan 'malling' [New York Post]
· Vacancy signs: Brokers' dark story [New York Post]