How much is store rent in NYC?

New York City is one of the most expensive cities in the world for retail space. Rent prices for storefronts in popular neighborhoods like Soho, Fifth Avenue, Madison Avenue, and Times Square can rival London, Paris, and Tokyo. While the high foot traffic and tourism make NYC an attractive location, the extremely high rents mean retail spaces are only viable for luxury brands, major retailers, and well-funded startups. Independent shops and restaurants typically opt for more affordable outer borough locations.

What is the Average NYC Retail Rent Price Per Square Foot?

According to the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), the average asking rent for ground floor retail space in Manhattan as of Fall 2022 is $688 per square foot annually. This is down slightly from $700 per square foot in 2021. For comparison, average retail rents in other major US cities are:

City Average Retail Rent Per Square Foot
New York $688
San Francisco $600
Chicago $100
Los Angeles $50

As you can see, New York’s average retail rent is significantly higher than other large metro areas in the US. However, keep in mind this is just the average across Manhattan. Rents can be over $1000 per square foot in prime locations.

How Do Rents Vary by Manhattan Neighborhood?

Retail rents in Manhattan range dramatically based on the prestige and foot traffic of the neighborhood. For example, rents along the stretch of Fifth Avenue from 49th to 60th Streets that houses flagship luxury brand stores average a whopping $2,000 per square foot. Rents also exceed $1000 per square foot in Soho, Flatiron, and Times Square.

More affordable neighborhoods like Harlem and Washington Heights have average rents between $100-200 per square foot. Outer borough neighborhoods can be even cheaper, with many areas of Brooklyn and Queens in the $50-100 per square foot range.

Here are some examples of average retail rents by popular Manhattan neighborhoods:

Neighborhood Average Rent Per Square Foot
Fifth Avenue (49th to 60th) $2,000
Soho $1,000
Times Square $1,200
Flatiron $850
Grand Central $700
Union Square $650
Herald Square $450
Chinatown $200
Harlem $125
Washington Heights $100

What Types of Retail Spaces Cost the Most?

Within a given neighborhood, the type of retail space also dramatically affects rent. Corner spaces with frontage on two busy streets command the highest rents. Tenants also pay premiums for large floorplates over 10,000 square feet that allow expansive flagship store designs.

Landmark spaces in iconic buildings like the Plaza Hotel or Rockefeller Center also fetch rents of over $500 per square foot in midtown. Department stores and shopping malls charge “percentage rent,” meaning the rent is a percentage of a tenant’s gross sales instead of a fixed dollar amount per square foot.

Some examples of the most expensive retail space types include:

  • Flagship locations in historic buildings – $500+ per square foot
  • Corner locations on major avenues – $600+ per square foot
  • Anchor spaces in luxury malls – 10-15% of gross sales
  • Department store floors – 10-25% of gross sales
  • Spaces over 10,000 square feet – 30%+ premium over neighborhood average

Luxury brands view these prime retail locations as essential, even at extremely high rents, for the brand visibility and status they confer.

How Do Rent Prices Compare to Other Global Cities?

New York has some of the highest retail rents globally, but many other major cities also command premium rents, especially in their most desirable shopping districts. Here’s how New York rents stack up against other global capitals:

City Average Rent Per Square Foot Most Expensive Area Rent Per Square Foot
New York $688 Fifth Avenue $2,000
London $460 Bond Street $925
Paris $540 Avenue Montaigne $1,070
Tokyo $315 Ginza $700
Hong Kong $525 Causeway Bay $1,215

New York ranks among the top cities globally for retail rent. The stretch of Fifth Avenue from 49th to 60th streets now claims the title of the world’s most expensive retail location. However, London’s Bond Street, Paris’ Avenue Montaigne, and Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay all command similarly eye-watering rents exceeding $900 per square foot.

How Have Rents Changed Over Time in NYC?

Retail rents moved steadily upward in New York from the 1990s through 2015. However, rents began declining in 2016 and have yet to recover to pre-pandemic levels due to e-commerce and changing consumer habits.

Rents for ground floor space averaged $200-$400 per square foot in Manhattan in 2000 but surpassed $700 by 2015. The pandemic accelerated a rent slide that began in 2016. Average rents dropped below $600 per square foot in 2020 and 2021. While 2022 saw a slight rebound to $688 per square foot, rents remain about 10% below 2015 highs.

Many retailers took advantage of lowered rents during the pandemic to relocate or renegotiate their leases. Vacancy also remains elevated at around 20% in many top retail corridors like Fifth Avenue, Soho, and Madison Avenue. Landlords have offered generous concessions like months of free rent to fill empty spaces.

It remains to be seen if the remote work trend and reduced tourism will persist in NYC and continue applying downward pressure on rents after the pandemic wanes. However, the city will likely remain a coveted retail location that commands rents far above the national average.

What are the Factors Driving High NYC Retail Rents?

Several key factors allow New York landlords to charge astronomical rents for retail spaces:

  • High foot traffic – NYC has one of the world’s highest urban population densities. Major retail corridors see over 100,000 pedestrians daily.
  • Tourism – NYC averages over 60 million tourists annually. Retailers rely heavily on tourist spending.
  • Wealthy population – The NYC metro area is home to over 1 million millionaires and 79 billionaires.
  • Flagship stores – Luxury brands view Manhattan flagships as essential, regardless of cost.
  • Limited space – NYC has strict zoning laws. Retail space is limited, driving up demand.
  • Prestige – Having a prime NYC location confers status and visibility for retailers.

NYC possesses a unique mix of density, wealth, and cachet that enables landlords to charge rents that would be unthinkable in other cities. Retailers view these high rents as the necessary cost of doing business to tap into New York’s luxury market and gain global brand visibility.

How Do Retailers Manage the High Rents?

The steep price to operate retail stores in prime Manhattan neighborhoods poses major challenges for retailers:

  • Retailers need high sales volume to afford rent. Luxury brands generate over $1,500 sales per square foot in top NYC locations.
  • Many retailers have small footprints under 5,000 square feet to control costs.
  • Brands carefully analyze store metrics like conversion rate and average transaction size when choosing leases.
  • Co-tenancy with complementary luxury brands is desirable to share foot traffic.
  • Shorter lease terms (5-10 years) preserve flexibility to close underperforming locations.

Luxury retailers also run their flagships as much for marketing as sales. The intangible brand awareness and perception benefits in global capitals like New York have significant value for luxury brands, justifying the high rents.

What Does the Future Hold for NYC Retail Rents?

The future trajectory of New York retail rents remains uncertain heading into 2023 and beyond:

  • Inflation could exert upward pressure on prices if rents continue lagging pre-pandemic levels.
  • However, remote work and reduced tourism may constrain rent growth, especially for office-oriented corridors.
  • Continued e-commerce penetration will force landlords to be flexible on rents to fill space.
  • Brands are negotiating shorter leases and renovating stores less often to control costs.
  • Soho, Meatpacking, and other neighborhoods may suffer if zoning laws reduce allowable retail.
  • Strong luxury sales and resilient tourism spending should preserve New York’s status as a premier global retail hub.

While retail in other cities may continue declining, New York’s density, tourism, and luxury market should enable it to remain a retail rent leader over the long term. However, landlords will likely have to offer more concessions and flexibility to retain tenants in the years ahead.


Retail rent in New York City, especially in marquee neighborhoods like Fifth Avenue, Soho, and Times Square, is among the highest in the world. Flagship locations for luxury brands can easily top $1,000 per square foot in rent annually. Rents have declined from pre-pandemic peaks but remain many multiples higher than other major US cities.

The combination of high local spending, millions of annual tourists, and enduring global cachet means New York will continue commanding a rent premium. However, downward pressure from e-commerce and changes in consumer habits and zoning may prevent rents from returning to 2015 levels in the near term. Nevertheless, for deep-pocketed luxury brands, a prime New York location remains essential regardless of cost.

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