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NYC comptroller declares retail vacancy crisis

store space for rent sign

The retail vacancy rate in New York City rose by almost 50% from 2007 to 2017, according to an analysis released by city comptroller Scott M. Stringer.

Vacant retail space across all five boroughs doubled to 11 million sq. ft. during the period due to an increase in online shopping, rising commercial rents, and burdensome regulation. A vacancy rate of 4% rose in 2007 rose to 5.8% by 2017. The highest vacancy rates were recorded in Staten Island and Queens.

Rents rose most rapidly, however, in Manhattan. While retail rents rose an average of 22% over the 10-year period, they went up by 68% on the Upper West Side and 55% in Central Harlem.

The rise of online shopping has reshaped the mix of New York City’s retail space in favor of service-oriented establishments such as restaurants, barbers, and exercise studios, said the report. The number of merchandise retail outlets in New York City rose by 19% between 2007 and 2017, while the number of personal services establishments rose by nearly 50%, and bars and restaurants soared by 65%.

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