Vacant Storefronts Haunt Manhattan

Empty storefronts are saturating Manhattan's blocks as small businesses (read: shop owners and chain brands alike) struggle to pay their rents amid a dip in customer traffic.

The New York Times reported some pretty alarming statistics this week, as the percentage of vacant storefronts has actually reached 6.5 percent, its highest point in nearly 20 years -- with the higher numbers in the city's important retail districts look more like 10 percent or higher. In Brooklyn and Queens, vacancy rates are even more dismal as they head toward an estimated 15 percent.

So please, for all that is good and holy about New York City, please take heed:

"Manhattan, with its high density, high incomes and near-constant foot traffic, has maintained a strong storefront culture while other urban areas have seen their downtowns empty out and lose customers to suburban malls."

We. Cannot. Let. This. Happen. If what we most desired in life was to shop at mini-malls, we would have moved out of range of the New York hustle-and-bustle long ago. We agree with The Times: It's the village-like atmosphere of a hodgepodge of storefronts, not the presence of mega-brands in mega-shopping centers, that makes the city what she is. Much as we advised regarding diamonds, it seems there's no time like the present to go out and support some local boutiques. Maybe Anna Wintour's got the right idea after all with her whole "Fashion's Night Out" project ..

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