New York City sees decline in national chain stores

National retail chains in New York City declined for the first time since the Center for an Urban Future started tracking statistics 11 years ago. In Manhattan, usually the flagship borough, retail chains declined by 2.3 percent.

The Center for an Urban Future's Jonathan Bowles said that 124 national retail chains scaled back in 2017 as a commercial vacancies continue to spread. Bowles said that national chains even grew during the financial crisis in 2008.

Brick-and-mortar stores selling everything from clothing to shoes to accessories took the biggest hit—casualties of the convenience and pricing of e-commerce.

Cellular companies and drug stores are among the best-performing retail chains and continue to grow. But Bowles warns property owners that the good old days of holding a space vacant for a big payoff of a national retail chain are over.

Real estate experts can't zero in on exactly when commercial rents will start adjusting. Most agree that has to happen for some of the vacant spaces to start filling up again.