February 4, 2009

Madison Avenue feels recessionary pinch

Fabled Madison Avenue in New York City, with some the priciest stores in the world, is now riddled with retail vacancies, real estate brokers said.

This is as bad as I've ever seen it, said broker Alan Victor, an executive vice president of the Lansco Corporation, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Gene Spiegelman at Cushman & Wakefield said the 13 percent of the posh retail district was available for rent or subletting arrangements.

Beyond the 13 percent, some retailers would say, if you get me a good sublease, I'll take it and run, said broker F. William Judson, chairman of the Madison Avenue Business Improvement District.

Luxury retail led declines among retailers in 2008, falling 7.5 percent, the Times said.

Among the stores showing declines, sales fell 31.2 percent at Neiman Marcus's specialty division during the holiday season. Sales at Tiffany dropped 24 percent at stores open for at least a year, the company said.

If you're in New York, and you've got the financial services industry in a depression, how can you possibly do well in high-level goods? asked Howard Davidowitz, chairman of retail consulting and investment banking firm Davidowitz & Associates.