New York malls’ foot traffic still has not recovered

Shopping hubs lag behind 2019 levels

New York /
Sep.September 07, 2021 07:30 AM
New York malls’ foot traffic still has not recovered

Westfield World Trade Center, Hudson Yards Mall, Rockefeller Center
(Google Maps)

Nearly a year after malls in New York reopened, they are still not back to where they were.

Foot traffic for several major shopping hubs across the city remains behind 2019 levels, according to July data from location analytics firm Placer.ai.

At Westfield World Trade Center, foot traffic is 48 percent below the typical year. Meanwhile, key tenants are in litigation with the landlord: Victoria’s Secret and Starbucks are being sued by mall operator Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield.

Rockefeller Center is also on thin ice with foot traffic 47 percent lower than 2019 levels. However, overall retail foot traffic in the Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District is up 65 percent.

The president of the Fifth Avenue Association, Jerome Barth, attributes that to a return in local and domestic travelers, in addition to the openings of new retailers such as the Lego Store.

“The stores are starting to expand their hours again and bring back more sales staff,” Barth said.

The SoHo BID has also done well. Foot traffic has skyrocketed 115 percent, according to Placer.ai data.

“Seeing our local streets so lively is very encouraging for the prospects of the district’s economic recovery and we are hopeful that these positive trends continue into the fall and winter,” said Brandon Zwagerman, director of planning and community engagement, in an email. He credited SoHo’s retail mix, historic architecture and street life.

The Shops & Restaurants at Hudson Yards, part of the Related Companies’ megadevelopment, has also experienced heightened foot traffic compared to 2019, when the mall first opened. In July, traffic was up 29 percent.

The Shops at Columbus Circle, also owned by Related, however, has seen foot traffic fall 32 percent.

At Brookfield Place in Lower Manhattan, traffic is down 31 percent, according to Placer.ai. Still, a Brookfield spokesperson insisted that the mall’s performance indicators are strong.

“Despite a period of unprecedented challenges amidst the pandemic, we have seen record sales for several retailers, a continuous rise in foot traffic and across the entire complex, [and] sales figures have tripled in the last six months,” the spokesperson said, adding that new leases have recently been signed.

In the outer boroughs, consumer activity is also mixed. At the Staten Island Mall, foot traffic is up 2.6 percent from July 2019 levels. At Queens Place Mall, it is down 8.4 percent.

Queens Place Mall had 524,000 visitors in June and 425,000 in July, according to its owner, Madison International Realty. 

“Traffic at Queens Place has remained at robust levels, even during the months of Covid restrictions, as many of our tenants are essential businesses,” Ehud Kupperman, director at Madison International Realty, said in a statement. “Queens Place is an important local retail center that continues to draw shoppers throughout the neighborhood.”





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