New York chain store locations grew 3% in 2021
The number of chain stores and restaurants in New York has increased this year, a welcome sign for retail owners after four consecutive years of decline.
The bar was quite low. The 2.7 percent year-over-year increase is petty compared to the 12.8 percent drop last year, according to a report from the Center for an Urban Future.
The chains added 190 locations in the five boroughs as the pace of retail activity accelerated after 2020, the most difficult year on record, when one in seven stores were forced to close. Chain stores were on a downward trajectory even before the pandemic, with the city seeing a 3.7% drop in locations in 2019 and a 0.3% drop in 2018.
But in addition to the 190 new store and restaurant openings, more than a quarter (260) of the 1,021 locations that closed in 2020 have reopened this year.
Several chains are now surpassing their number of stores before the pandemic, including Pret A Manger, Shake Shack, Insomnia Cookies, Papa Johns and Kiehl’s. Those who have opened the most are streetwear brand Jimmy Jazz (with 31 new stores), Taco Bell (28), Pret A Manger (23), Le Pain Quotidien (23), Pizza Hut (22), Subway (21) , Enterprise (20), Soul Cycle (19) and Popeye (18).
In addition, fewer national retailers closed their doors last year, with just eight chains leaving the city entirely, up from 27 last year. Among them were Century21 – which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and closed all of its stores last year, including its five stores in New York City – Kenneth Cole, French Connection and Fossil.
Although the number of chain store locations has fallen from 6,970 at the end of 2020 to 7,160 this year, this figure is still 10% lower than the 7,948 stores in 2019 and 12% lower than the 8,136 stores in 2018.
Staten Island saw the fastest rate of increase this year, with a 4.5% jump in its chain store footprint to 19 stores. Brooklyn added 43 stores, Queens added 31, and the Bronx added 11. After accounting for more than half of all closures in 2020, Manhattan accounted for 45% of growth in 2021. However, none of the boroughs have was able to return to 2019 levels.