Stunning Brick & Mortar Meltdown, Manhattan Style: The Collapse of Retail Rents Before & Now During the Pandemic

by Wolf Richter
Wolf Street

Store rents had already plunged, amid a surge in vacancies. Then in the spring, the market froze; when it thawed, rents dropped to 10-year lows.

In the major shopping corridors in Manhattan, where sidewalks are lined by ground-floor shops, retail rents have been declining for years – and not just by a little, but by 20%, 30% or even over 40%, amid ballooning vacancies. The brick-and-mortar retail meltdown, Manhattan style. Then came the Pandemic. In the spring during the lockdown, as hospitals and morgues were overwhelmed, the market for street-level retail space froze up. Later in the year, retailers and landlords started making deals again, with “asking rents” falling by as much as 25% year-over-year, and by as much as 55% from the peak in prior years. And “taking rents” – rents actually agreed on – were reported to be even lower.

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