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New York’s vanishing shops and storefronts: ‘It’s not Amazon, it’s rent’

December 24, 2017

By Edward Helmore : theguardian – excerpt

Vacant storefronts are becoming more noticeable in the capital of consumption, as small retailers are being pushed out by wealthy investors…

Walk down almost any major New York street – say Fifth Avenue near Trump Tower, or Madison Avenue from midtown to the Upper East Side. Perhaps venture down Canal Street, or into the West Village around Bleecker, and some of the most expensive retail areas in the world are blitzed with vacant storefronts…

Over the past several years, thousands of small retailers have closed, replaced by national chains. When they, too, fail, the stores lie vacant, and landlords, often institutional investors, are unwilling to drop rents…

The picture is repeated nationally. In October, the US surpassed the previous record for store closings, set after the 2008 financial crisis.

The common refrain is that the devastation is the product of a profound shift in consumption to online, with Amazon frequently identified as the leading culprit. But this is maybe an over-simplification…

It’s not Amazon, it’s rent,” says Jeremiah Moss, author of the website and book Vanishing New York. “Over the decades, small businesses weathered the New York of the 70s with it near-bankruptcy and high crime. Businesses could survive the internet, but they need a reasonable rent to do that.”…(more)

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