Retail rents on the whole declined in the city, with much of this related to the transformation of the traditional retail establishment into newer spaces. A seeming contradiction, leasing activity has increased while rents have decreased. One key reason is that New York City is characterized by very high commercial real estate rents, but retailers are opting for inexpensive pop-ups and promotional spaces that allow them to pay less and lease for a shorter time.
Not every area in New York City experienced this downturn, however. Downtown Manhattan saw a spike in late spring, with places like Broadway, Herald Square, and Times Square seeing an increase in rents. In total, rents rose 19 percent over fall 2018 in these areas. The rents in Billionaires Row also rose 2 percent over the last quarter of 2018.