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Tourism, Development Add to Manhattan’s Retail Boom

Monday, June 04, 2012

Retail is soaring in Manhattan, with sales expected to reach $52.4 billion in 2012.

Sales of clothing, electronics and other merchandise are expected to grow 42 percent from 2007 to the end of this year, according to a new report from real estate firm Eastern Consolidated.

The boom is being driven as much by tourists shopping in Fifth Avenue boutiques as New Yorkers shopping for essentials at places like Costco and Target.

"A lot of it is due to tourism growth, but it's also due to the development within Manhattan," said Barbara Byrne Denham, chief economist at Eastern Consolidated. "The retail development, the hotel development, as well as the residential development."

The number of tourists visiting New York has been growing, reaching a record 50.2 million in 2011. The city has adapted, adding nearly 14,000 hotel rooms since 2007.

Making use of one of those new rooms is Hassan Sepehr, 55, a doctor from Hamburg, Germany, in town for a week with his college-age daughter.

Sepehr started the week shopping in Midtown, looking for electronic devices to help his golf game.

"We can find them in Germany, but the newest ones are here," he said. "And it's a bit cheaper, about 20 percent cheaper than in Germany." He also planned a trip to the Apple store.

The addition of one million square feet of retail space, including 500,000 square feet at East Harlem's East River Plaza, is also drawing New Yorkers to spend more in Manhattan.

Eastern Consolidated also cited the relative — and growing — wealth of Manhattanites as a factor in the retail upswing.

Data from 2010 puts Manhattan's per capita income at $111,000, or more than twice that of the other boroughs and the United States as a whole.

There's good news for the people behind the cash registers as well: The economic activity in the retail sector has created 40,700 jobs since 2009.

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