NYC’s Madison Avenue retail stores return to pre-COVID-19 vacancy ahead of holiday season

New York’s Madison Avenue is returning to the bustle it endured prior to the COVID-19 pandemic as more outlets lease spots left vacant from the coronavirus.

Merchants and retail venues such as Hermes and Versace have been snatching up new spaces on the avenue, with Hermes opening its latest flagship store in the high-end shopping district earlier this month.

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Rent rates for retail spaces in six of 11 Manhattan neighborhoods are the best they’ve been since 2019, according to Cushman &. Wakefield, a real-estate brokerage.

“We’re getting back to like 2014 levels when the retail market was last at its peak,” Steven Soutendijk, an executive managing director at Cushman & Wakefield, told Bloomberg. “Space is getting gobbled up at a tremendously high rate.”

Retailers were hit particularly hard during the pandemic due to a lack of foot traffic when lockdowns were in effect. Because of the shutdowns, vacancies opened up and rent rates decreased. The average asking rent in Manhattan fell 5.3% in the third quarter of this year, compared to the same period last year. On Madison Avenue, rates decreased even more, to nearly 14%, the outlet reported, citing a report from the real estate company Jones Lang LaSalle.

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Retailers are hoping the return to normalcy will extend to the holiday season. During the pandemic, most retailers had to shift to filling orders online, forcing them to compete with online giants including Amazon. However, the country has seen an increase in the cost of living due to high inflation.

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