Back on top: Fifth Avenue has world’s priciest retail rents

Upper portion of Midtown corridor reclaims top spot after 5 years


The coffers of Fifth Avenue retail landlords are filling up again.

Upper Fifth Avenue — stretching from 49th Street to 60th Street — reclaimed its No. 1 spot among the world’s most expensive retail districts, Bloomberg reported, citing a Cushman & Wakefield survey of 92 prime destinations.

Annual rents for Upper Fifth Avenue stores averaged $2,000 per square foot, up 14 percent from pre-pandemic levels. The retail district bucked the trend of global prime retail destinations, whose rents declined by a cumulative 13 percent at the height of the pandemic and remain 6 percent below pre-pandemic levels.

Cushman’s usually annual survey was conducted for the first time since 2019.

The New York City retail hub displaced Hong Kong’s Tsim Sha Tsui district for Cushman’s top spot. Rents in Tsim Sha Tsui fell 41 percent from pre-pandemic levels to $1,436 per square foot. Italy’s Via Montenapoleone in Milan ranked third.

No market in North America besides Fifth Avenue ranked in the top 10.

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In the Americas as a whole, the average retail rent in the surveyed districts is 15 percent above the pre-pandemic level. The opposite is true of the Asia Pacific region, where rents fell by an average of 17 percent as border closures hindered tourism.

Fifth Avenue has always been known as one of the most luxurious and lucrative retail stretches on the planet. The corridor has housed brands such as Bergdorf Goodman, Gucci and Louis Vuitton. But a reduction in conspicuous consumption stateside by wealthy Asian shoppers helped cost the corridor its top spot in 2018, when Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay was the world’s priciest district.

New York City is pushing for even more shopping on Fifth Avenue this holiday season. For the three Sundays leading up to Christmas in December, the avenue between 48th and 57th streets will be closed to vehicular traffic in the afternoon.

The success of the stretch isn’t the only positive news for the country’s retail recovery: Spaces are filling up nationwide.

Retail availability in the United States dropped nearly a full percentage point year-over-year to 5 percent last quarter, according to CBRE. It was the lowest level of availability recorded by the firm since it began tracking the metric 17 years ago.

— Holden Walter-Warner