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Holiday season shopping already underway, according to city brokers

Retail sales are expected to increase this year during the holiday shopping season, with several factors at play – but some brokers say the big spending has already begun.

Photo by Anthony Quintano/ Flickr
Photo by Anthony Quintano/ Flickr

Cushman & Wakefield released a report earlier this month that predicts a 4.1 percent increase in sales during the holiday season this year, pointing to a drop in gas prices and lower unemployment as big contributors to the rise in spending.

“Much of the increase is being fueled by consumers’ brightened outlook for the economy,” said Jason Tolliver, vice president of research in Cushman & Wakefield’s Indianapolis office, in a press release accompanying the report. “Correspondingly, retail sales are looking solid. It finally appears that consumers have begun using some of their newfound savings from lower gas prices on other areas of retail spending.”

In New York City specifically, brokers see the numbers going up as well.

“Retailers have really had Black Friday since July,” said Faith Hope Consolo, chair of the retail division of Douglas Elliman Real Estate, who sees the percentage of sales going up 4.1 to 4.5 percent  year-over-year. “There’s been a lot of sales all along, so I think that a lot of Christmas shopping was already done before Halloween.”

Consolo noted that sales before November aren’t often tracked in the same category as holiday shopping.

“It’s become more and more earlier every year,” said Consolo, who noted that e-marketing and promotions started in the summer. “E-marketing is seeing a lot of clicks go to bricks – with all of that it looks like 1 in 4 of consumers transactions are taking place mobile.”

Aaron Fishbein, a retail broker with Winick Realty, sees the major shopping corridors – Times Square, Herald Square, 5th Avenue – thriving during the holiday season.

“Looking at international and domestic tourists, it’s been increasing, and it really drives the New York shopping and especially in terms of holidays,” said Fishbein. “Big box retailers especially are rolling out sales earlier for shoppers to take advantage of sales.”

With many tourists visiting the city during the summer or other months that aren’t during the holidays, retailers are starting sales earlier to draw those extra shoppers in.

“I think shoppers like to touch and feel and go into stores, and what better place in terms of product to shop in New York than flagship stores. Tourists and visitors domestically are really going to drive New York shopping,” said Fishbein.

Looking into 2016, Fishbein sees successful food brands based in Miami, LA, and other big cities coming to NYC, as well as fitness chains.

Big box stores, like Target, which just announced it will open its second Manhattan location in Tribeca in a smaller format, could be eyeing expansions in NYC as well.

“Rents are becoming an issue, and with internet sales, big box has to become more efficient with square footage,” said Fishbein. “Target and Lowe’s are doing it, and give it a year and other stores will replicate. The problem is retailers are trying to figure out how to lay it out and which products to offer in New York, but I do think that smaller big box spaces will become the norm.”

Consolo predicts “bigger is better” will be a mantra in the new year, with Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus joining the department store ranks of New York, and Kohl’s following Target. Food concepts at Hudson Yards will be announced, and new sports apparel and sports stores will open.

“Shopping is the number one entertainment in the country,” she said. “It’s not going to the theater or going to the movies – it’s shopping.”

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