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Despite Industry Tumult, National Retail Chains Growing in NYC

Jonathan Bowles, executive director, The Center for an Urban Future. Jonathan Bowles, executive director, The Center for an Urban Future.

NEW YORK CITY—Although bricks and mortar retail has been facing unprecedented challenges, the number of national retailers in New York City continues to rise, according to a report released by the Center for an Urban Future.

The organization’s 10th annual “State of the Chains” report notes that the number of national retailers in New York City rose 1.3% in 2017 from a year earlier to 7,317 locations. Manhattan, which last year suffered a slight decline in national retail locations in 2016, saw a 0.9% increase in 2017 to 2,734 locations. Brooklyn led the outer boroughs with a 3.1% hike in national retailer locations to 1,587 in 2017, followed by the Bronx, which posted a 1.8% increase to 907 locations, Queens came in next with a 0.9% increase to 1,680 and Staten Island posted the only decline in locations, down 1.9% from 2016 to 409.

A deep dive into the statistics shows that food/coffee establishments are continuing to post strong growth, while retailers facing competition from on-line outlets have considerably contracted their respective footprints in the New York metro region.

The report, authored by Center for an Urban Future senior researcher Christian Gonzalez-Rivera, states that Dunkin’ Donuts tops its list as the largest national retailer in New York City for the ninth consecutive year with a total of 612 stores, a net increase of 16 stores since 2016—and 271 since 2008.

However, mobile phone retailer MetroPCS has overtaken last year’s number two national retailer in New York City—Subway. Metro PCS now has 445 stores in the five boroughs and added 119 locations here in the past year. Starbucks came in third place on the list with 433 stores in New York City.

Mobile phone service chains have expanded considerably in New York City over the past 10 years. This sector has added 621 locations in the past decade, increasing its collective footprint from 233 locations in 2008 to 854 in 2017. MetroPCS has increased its portfolio of New York City properties from seven in 2008 to 445 this year—a 267% increase.

Fast-casual dining chain restaurants in the five boroughs increased 105% over the past decade, from 141 to 289, while the number of fast-food restaurant chains grew 14%, from 1,107 to 1,261 locations. There are now 952 chain coffee shops in New York, 65% more than a decade ago, led by Dunkin’ Donuts. Food-related chains are responsible for 41% of the growth in national retailer locations in New York over the past 10 years, the most of any category, the report states.

The consumer electronics sector has been battered by a host of market forces. There are fewer than half as many electronics shops in New York today as there were in 2008: down to 53 locations in the five boroughs, compared to 144 stores 10 years ago. During the same period, the number of shoe retail chains decreased 16%, from 239 locations to 207.

Starbucks has more stores in Manhattan than any other national retailer, with 223 locations. In Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island, Dunkin’ Donuts is number one on the list—it has 187 stores in Queens, 161 in Manhattan, 139 in Brooklyn, and 36 on Staten Island. However, for the first time since the Center for an Urban Future began tracking this data, Dunkin’ Donuts’ lead in the Bronx was overtaken by MetroPCS, which has 98 locations in the Bronx compared to Dunkin’ Donuts’ 89. In Brooklyn, MetroPCS is just one store shy of tying with the longtime leader.

Among the large pharmacy chains, Rite Aid is the top pharmacy in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens. Duane Reade/Walgreens has the most numerous store locations in Manhattan, and CVS has earned the top spot on Staten Island.

Other retailers that experienced significant store growth in the past year include: T-Mobile: 236 locations, up from 223 in 2016 and 82 in 2008; Crumbs Bake Shop: 22 locations, up from 10 in 2016 and 2008; Children’s Place: 38 locations, up from 30 in 2016 and 21 in 2008; and Pret a Manger: 50 locations, up from 42 in 2015 and 15 in 2008.

The report also noted the following retailers that have downsized considerably over the past year: Duane Reade/Walgreens: 260 locations, down from 303 in 2016 and 264 in 2008; RadioShack: three locations, down from 35 in 2016 and 116 in 2008; Payless: 74 locations, down from 95 in 2016 and 109 in 2008 and Hale and Hearty Soups: 23 locations, down from 31 in 2016 and 20 in 2008.

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