Buying Services Instead Of Things In New York
There’s an interesting cultural transition happening in the petri dish of human activity known as Manhattan. According to the NYT up to 20% of the island’s street level retail store fronts are vacant. This could be attributed to the “Amazon Effect”, which is impacting B&M locations everywhere in the US, including New York. However there’s another opposite consumer trend happening at the same time. Service-related locations, including restaurants, cafes and high end fitness clubs, are proliferating in NYC and other affluent urban centers throughout the US.
So what’s happening here? In an in-depth research piece by The Atlantic, the macro-trend of Millennials prioritizing experiences and convenience over possessions is playing out before our eyes. According to NYU Urban Policy and Planning Professor Mitchel Moss, “This is a restaurant city, not a food city . . . It’s as if nobody knows or cares about cooking. Young people barely know how to make coffee.” Maybe that explains why Dunkin Donuts has opened 271 new locations (in just New York!) over the past decade. I shudder to think how many Starbucks there are across the city.
Bottom line . . . today’s storefront landscape is being transformed by two unrelated factors. On one hand eComm has made it easier than ever not to visit a B&M store. Simultaneously, we’re diverting more of our discretionary dollars to service businesses which give us experiences like eating out and working out. And there’s no better place to see this evolution play out than on the streets of Manhattan.