The invasion of chain stores — often pushing out mom-and-pop operations — slowed to a crawl in the Big Apple this year and has fallen nearly 10% since the pandemic, according to a new report.
Five of the top 25 chains in the city shuttered 78 outposts as the total number of nationwide retailers increased to 7,299 this year from 7,279 in 2021 — an anemic 0.3% growth, according to the Center for an Urban Future’s annual “State of the Chains” report released Wednesday.
Those whittling down their ubiquitous presence in the city were led by Metro by T-Mobile, Duane Reade, Subway, 7-Eleven and Pret-A-Manger.
When compared to pre-pandemic levels, there were 781, or 9.8%, fewer chain stores in the city in 2022 than in 2019.
“Retailers here are treading water even as the rest of the national economy came roaring back in 2022,” Jonathan Bowles, the agency’s executive director, told The Post.
While the drugstore chains were particularly hard hit by a shoplifting crime wave in the city, Bowles maintains that online shopping has also contributed to their diminished numbers.
The drugstore chains have been steadily shrinking since before the pandemic, he said, pointing to 2011 when Duane Reade and Walgreens operated 324 stores as the turning point in their growth. Rite Aid peaked in 2014 with 200 stores and has steadily declined to 109 stores today, Bowles said.
Manhattan was the worst-hit borough, losing 14.4%, or 427, of its chain stores since 2019, largely due to the work-from-home trend, which hit Midtown especially hard.
Brooklyn, on the other hand, saw the largest one-year surge, adding 33 stores for a 2.1% increase, while the other boroughs had little to no growth, according to the survey.
Even the city’s largest retailer over the past 15 years — Dunkin, with 620 stores — opened just five stores in 2022. The donut chain operated at 636 locations in 2019.
Starbucks vaulted to the distant second-largest chain, opening six stores for a total of 316 this year, or 35 fewer than it had in 2019. The Seattle-based coffee giant earned its second-place ranking because Metro by T-Mobile shrank by 16 stores to 295 locations citywide.
But it’s not all gloom and doom.
Food chains are the most healthy retailers, adding more stores than any other sector, as they have in past years.
Chipotle opened 10 new stores to bring it up to 105 sites, Wingstop added nine stores for a total of 28 eateries, and Taco Bell opened seven new stores to raise its total to 75.
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