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Back to the ‘Burbs: Some Retailers Exit Downtown

Large brands opt to put smaller stores in outlying areas.




iStock, hallojulie iStock, hallojulie

Many cities are struggling with a post-pandemic surplus of obsolete older office buildings that are likely to remain empty as workers stay home to do their jobs. As a result, some major retail brands are choosing to open smaller suburban locations over downtowns and malls, reports.

That trend is reflected in a just-issued report from JPMorgan Chase titled “Downtown Downturn: The Covid Shock to Brick-and Mortar Retail.”  Several major urban markets, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Seattle and Miami, had fewer retail establishments in the last quarter of 2021 than before the pandemic, JPMorgan reported.

In its story on this trend, news site Bloomberg cited specialty apparel retailer Abercrombie & Fitch’s decision not to reopen its large store in Chicago’s Water Tower Place. Instead, at the end of 2021, Abercrombie & Fitch opened a new, smaller boutique-style shop in the city’s Lakeview neighborhood.

Overall, the apparel sector closed 750 stores in total in 2022, but it also saw the second-highest total of store openings—nearly 1400—with many of these new stores in suburban locations, according to Coresight Research data.

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