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Fashion-Forward Madison Avenue Starting To Catch Up In Retail's Recovery

745 Madison Ave., which Givenchy vacated in 2020

Shifting shopping trends and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic has hit the city’s once glorious shopping strips hard, and Madison Avenue is no exception. But a gradual return to normality has sparked hope with retailers and landlords alike.

“We’ve started to see a lot of our regulars come back,” Jerry Pozniak, CEO of Jeeves New York, a luxury dry cleaner located on East 65th Street off Madison Avenue, told The Wall Street Journal. “People are now wearing clothes again other than loungewear.”

Still, foot traffic remains muted along the strip. Visits to Madison Avenue stores were down 18% in August from the same month in 2019, according to analytics firm By comparison, SoHo’s Broadway is actually up by 10% over the same time period.

Upper Madison Avenue had a total of 55 direct ground floor available spaces, per CBRE, and the average price per SF rent was down 12% on last year to hit $773. The former Sergio Rossi space at 680 Madison Ave. and the former Givenchy space at 745 Madison Ave. both became available in the past year, per CBRE. 

Luxury retailers have faced a slew of challenges in recent years, hitting retail neighborhoods that had once commanded top rents hard. Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger have all closed flagship Manhattan stores in the past few years; the former Lord & Taylor building on Fifth Avenue is now owned by Amazon.

However, many believe that despite flagging rents and the seemingly endless growth of online shopping, places like Madison Avenue are still a safe bet to buy real estate.

“We're buying Madison and Fifth retail. Why? Because I'm a strong believer that retail's not dead,” investor Michael Shvo said at Bisnow’s National Finance Summit last week.

He said he is particularly focused on the stretch of Madison Avenue between 60th Street and 65th Street.

“We’re buying retail with credit tenants like LVMH, Gucci, Hermes, these kinds of credit tenants that are there for 10 years ain't going anywhere," he said. "The bet is that in 10 years, when the lease expires, we're actually going to see the market rebound. I'm willing to make a bet today that 10 years from now, retail is going to be back to where it was, if not stronger.”