Well-known brands close NYC branches in record numbers

New York City has seen almost one in seven nationally recognised chain-store branches close their doors in 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic ravaged the country and sent consumers scurrying for cover, according to a latest industry report.

A record high 1,057 chain stores, including 70 Duane Reades, 49 Starbucks and 22 Papyruses, have ended their businesses over the past 12 months, Xinhua news agency quoted the Center for an Urban Future’s annual “State of the Chains” report as saying.

The 13.3 per cent decline shatters all previous records reported by the non-profit agency since it began tracking the data 13 years ago.

Last year, just 3.7 per cent of all chain outlets closed, up from 0.3 per cent in 2018.

“If the national chains are scaling back like this, I have to imagine it’s twice as bad for mom-and-pop stores, who don’t have the same ability to weather a storm or get access to financing,” the centre’s Executive Director, Jonathan Bowles, was quoted by the New York Post as saying on Thursday.

Among the five boroughs of the city, Manhattan absorbed the deepest cuts with 520 chain closures, almost half of the city total, due to the borough’s dependence on office workers, tourists and wealthy residents who have decamped to homes outside the city, said the report.

Among the hardest-hit sectors were sandwich shops that cater to office workers, many of whom since March have been able to work from home, according to the report.

Meanwhile, some 40 chains actually added locations, led by Popeyes fried-chicken fast food, which added 11 new eateries.

Bowles believes there’s a chance that much of the food-sector decline is only temporary, assuming a large number of workers return to their offices when the pandemic eases.