Bye Bye, my Dear Fifth Avenue!

Besides being a status symbol, the location is strategic but in the e-commerce age, even top luxury players are leaving the legendary Fifth Avenue

The problem is excessive rents and competition from digital shopping. Sky-high rents and internet competition are at the base of New York’s Fifth Avenue depopulation, once the Mecca of international shopping, now an emblem of the retail crisis in Manhattan. The rush to escape began a couple of years ago with Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and Gap, which closed their flagship stores, no longer willing to pay just about anything to remain in one of the world’s busiest streets. This negative trend was highlighted in an article in the Wall Street Journal, which launched the alert and threw an unexpected shadow on the glittering luxury world.
The area in which the most famous luxury store signs gather is just south of the Fifth Avenue and Central Park junction, between 59th and 49th Streets. Gucci, Rolex, Tiffany, Apple, Cartier, but also Zara and Uniqlo are some of the brands to be found there. Currently the average rent for a store on Fifth Avenue is about 20,000 Euros per square meter, only second in the world to the more than 25,000 Euros on Causeway Bay in Hong Kong. According to Cushman & Wakefield, 25% of the commercial space on Fifth Avenue is empty at the moment or expiring rentals are still to be renewed. Versace was one of the latest players to leave Fifth Avenue. The announcement was given last October, just after the Medusa Company was bought by the Michael Kors Group, now Capri Holdings. The closure of the flagship store in the heart of the Big Apple was a bolt from the blue because Capri Holdings had declared its intention to expand the Versace retail network by adding another 100 stores worldwide. But market sources sustain that Versace had wanted to leave Fifth Avenue to move to a less central location.

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