New York’s retail landscape post-pandemic will not look the same.
Numerous New York City retailers are planning to permanently close their outposts in 2020 as they grapple with the effects of the novel coronavirus, along with other difficulties.
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While the retail picture was already evolving due to digital disruption and changing consumer habits, the coronavirus has brought with it a new set of challenges. The pandemic has slammed retailers by halting travel for tourists, forcing stores across the country to temporarily shut down and causing individuals to slash their discretionary spend.
To maintain cash flow, companies have taken drastic steps, such as cutting operating expenses, furloughing workers and tapping revolving credit lines. However, that hasn’t been enough to solve the problems of retailers like JCPenney, Neiman Marcus, J.Crew, Modell’s and several others that have all filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
New York City was one of the early epicenters of the coronavirus — and one of the first major cities to go into lockdown mode, forcing the closure of all nonessential businesses. Though the city has now lifted many of its restrictions and retailers have reopened their doors, foot traffic in Manhattan’s major shopping and business districts remains dismally low due to an absence of tourism and the fact that most workers haven’t returned to the office.
So for many major chains, their temporary store closures could become permanent.
Below, FN rounds up the New York retail chains that have shuttered — or are planning to shutter — their doors this year.
After filing for bankruptcy in fall 2019, Barneys permanently closed its remaining units in February — including its Madison Avenue flagship and its location in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. Barneys’ new owner, Authentic Brands Group, said it will license the retailer’s name to Saks Fifth Avenue, with plans to reboot Barneys as a shop-in-shop at Saks.
The Frye brand announced in early August it will shutter its entire fleet of 16 stores. That includes its boutique in Manhattan’s Soho neighborhood, which opened in 2011 and was the brand’s first retail outpost. Company leaders said they are now focused entirely on e-commerce selling.
In May, Gap Inc. was sued by landlord 48th Americas LLC, who said the retailer had skipped out on two months of rent payments amid the coronavirus pandemic. If an agreement cannot be reached between the two parties, Gap could end up shutting its Midtown Manhattan outpost for good.
Bankrupt JCPenney is closing down two high-profile New York City stores. Its Manhattan Mall location — which had once been a key part of the retailer’s strategy to become a more competitive fashion player — was closed for the lockdown and will not reopen. It Kings Plaza unit in Brooklyn, N.Y., had reopened, but will permanently shutter on Sept. 27.
On May 18, founder Jeffrey Kalinsky said that his three namesake stores, in Atlanta, New York and Palo Alto, Calif., would close their doors for good. Kalinsky opened his first store in Atlanta 30 years ago and debuted his boutique in New York’s Meatpacking District more than 20 years ago.
Kmart announced in February that it would close its Penn Station location. The four-level megastore, which opened its doors in 1996, was the discount chain’s first Manhattan outpost.
Neiman Marcus filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May after weeks of speculation. And two months later, it announced it will exit its five-floor outpost at Manhattan’s Hudson Yards, which opened in 2019. The closure is part of a larger downsizing effort that includes the shuttering of stores in Bellevue, Wash.; Palm Beach, Fla., and Fort Lauderdale, Fla. — and possibly Walnut Creek, Calif., and Washington, D.C.
In January, Opening Ceremony announced that it would close all of its brick-and-mortar units after being acquired by New Guards Group. The brand, which opened its first outpost in New York’s SoHo neighborhood in 2002, will shift from being a multi-brand retailer to focusing solely on its eponymous label.