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Uniqlo To Permanently Close Herald Square Store

Uniqlo at 31 West 34th St. across from the Empire State Building. The retailer will shutter in February, the latest in a series of chain clothing stores to exit Manhattan amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Another retail chain is ditching its Manhattan storefront.

The Uniqlo at 31 West 34th St., across from the Empire State Building, will close permanently on Feb. 21, prompting the elimination of 136 jobs, according to state labor regulatory filings posted this week. The company lists the reason behind the location’s shutdown as economic. El Fassi Realty Corp. controls the ground lease on the 276K SF Herald Square building.

The closure of the store in one of New York City’s premier shopping districts comes despite the high performance of Uniqlo’s parent company, Fast Retailing Co., which has seen its share price soar above its pre-pandemic benchmark. The company also owns retailers J Brand and Theory, among others. 

Uniqlo’s success has occurred while other fast-fashion retailers are struggling to pull through the pandemic.

The pandemic has propelled Uniqlo to quicken and expand its emphasis on online shopping, The Drum reported this week. While the company is decreasing its Manhattan footprint, it announced this week it will open a second storefront in Quebec next spring. 

The Japanese company is the latest Manhattan retail casualty. JCPenney and Kate Spade also closed some of their storefronts, and Banana Republic disclosed last week that it plans on shutting its Third Avenue store in January. Some chains, such as Victoria’s Secret, have closed their Manhattan stores but kept most of their other national outposts open, The New York Times reported

“There’s no reason to do business in New York,” Ark Restaurants CEO Michael Weinstein told the Times. “I can do the same volume in Florida in the same square feet as I would have in New York, with my expenses being much less. The idea was that branding and locations were important, but the expense of being in this city has overtaken the marketing group that says you have to be there.”

El Fassi Realty Corp., which ground leases the building from Solil Management, received between $150K and $350K in loans as part of the Paycheck Protection Program earlier this year, according to ProPublica. Uniqlo didn't respond to a request for comment on the store’s closure.