Not all of the Midtown office workers sitting at home in pajamas shop, have lunch, or drink after work — that’s a sign.
According to a new report on the real estate industry, downtown Manhattan is suffering worse than any other neighborhood in the city when it comes to empty showcases.
About 30 percent of storefronts in New York’s main business district are empty. According to the New York Real Estate Administration, the “catastrophic” shortage of office workers means that there aren’t enough customers for the retailers to work continuously.
These spaces are far superior to the empty showcases in other residential neighborhoods where there are still a lot of retailers and people who trust restaurants.
In Midtown, according to the REBNY report, only 25 percent to 30 percent of the regular workforce comes to the office, or about 60,000 people on the streets for lunch, a haircut, shopping or shoes. This equates to 180,000 office workers before the pandemic locked up.
According to the REBNY report, such a shortage of people has led to an increase in vacancies in front of stores. Some blocks are full of empty showcases that include shops and restaurants.
The burger and sandwich joint Schnipper’s had three locations in Manhattan before the pandemic. He had only two left, as the number of non-butter people decreased during lunch.
The rest of Schnipper’s location is in Midtown – Lexington Avenue and 51st Street, 41st Street and 8th Avenue. Colleague Andrew Shipper said stores will account for 40-50 percent of their sales by March 2020.
“We rely on office workers and they haven’t come back yet,” he said.
And that’s not just Midtown: the restorer was forced to close his third canteen on 120 Church Street in Lower Manhattan in April 2020 after the landlord refused to give him a concession when the city collapsed, Shipper said. This place is still empty. “Apparently we left him 18 months ago.”
Snipper said his Midtown homeowners worked with him. Therefore, these places are still open, he said, declining to elaborate on the benefits.
Not all restaurants and retailers survived: According to the report, there are 29.9 percent vacancies in stores near the Grand Central Terminal and in the Midtown-East neighborhood. In 2018, showcases around Grand Central were only 10.9 percent empty; Midtown East reported 15.3 percent vacancies at the time.
According to The Post, these figures include other statistics showing small businesses and retailers, including restaurants and bars.
“REBNY’s findings confirm the negative impact of the pandemic on the retail sector in central Manhattan,” said Fred Cerullo, president and CEO of Grand Central Partnership. “For these businesses to thrive, they need pedestrian movements produced by tourists and office workers.”
The workday was supposed to start with a return to offices, but the Delta option canceled many companies ’plans to return employees.
According to a Gartner study in August, about two-thirds of companies delayed returning to the office by early 2022, a recent report by a partnership company for New York that showed city employers expected only 41 percent of office workers. Must be back by September 30 – which is 60 percent lower than the previous account.
The report says retail outlets in outlying districts are much better than in Manhattan. The retail vacancy rate at Greenpoint and Prospect Heights in Brooklyn was 14.6 percent; it was 14 percent in Astoria and Sunniside in Queens.
But the retail corridors, which are connected to office passengers, lag behind those to residential ones. As of September, subway travel had risen to just 50 percent of pre-pandemic levels, the report said. Manhattan accounts for almost half of the city’s retail business.
The report says all of these businesses are big business for New York: the retail sector created 344,600 jobs in 2019 and made $ 55 billion in taxable sales to the city’s economy.
To counter the negative trends, REBNY represents the city’s biggest real estate interests, urging cities and states to pay attention to aggressive vaccination policies and encourage employers to return workers to the office.
“The city of New York is still under siege,” the report said. “Without a retail network, the recovery of the city’s economy will not be complete.”