- Over 1,000 chain stores, or a little less than one in seven stores, in New York City permanently or temporarily closed last year, according to the Center for an Urban Future's annual report.
- The number of chain stores across all boroughs dropped by 13.3% from last year's 3.7% decline. About 2% of chains closed doors temporarily, and 11.3% did not indicate whether closed locations will reopen, the report said.
- Manhattan had the most losses, accounting for 520 of 1,057 store location closures, followed by Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island respectively, per the report.
In 2020, the city experienced the largest year-over-year chain store decline in the 13 years since the Center for an Urban Future began analyzing national retailers.
Most store closures were a direct result of the virus outbreak in New York, which at one point became the epicenter, though not all. Several retailers selling apparel, jewelry, cosmetics, pet supplies and vitamins closed due to competition from e-commerce rather than pandemic-led problems, per the report.
New York shut down nonessential businesses last spring for two months, putting a financial strain on small and large retailers and led some to bankruptcy. Many large retailers managed to survive the closures through furloughs, issuing bonds and negotiating rent deferments.
As cases surged again, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told the press last month that the city could face another shutdown sometime after the holidays. He said the shutdown would likely last weeks with the help of the vaccine.
The virus accelerated an existing trend in the city. All five boroughs lost chain stores two years in a row. In 2019, chain stores in the city dropped by 304 locations, according to the Center for an Urban Future.
Jonathan Bowles, executive director of the Center for an Urban Future, told Retail Dive last year that the 2019 decline was a direct result of online shopping expansion. "What's changed is e-commerce. That's led to the downsizing and the closures," he said.
Few retailers managed to avoid closures, much less grow except for three sectors: home centers, wholesale clubs, and jewelry and watches. But even as states reopened, safety measures to prevent another shutdown like occupancy limits keep customers out of stores, and inefficient e-commerce platforms led to unhappy customers.