From 2019 to 2021, there was a 35% increase in storefront vacancies in the neighborhood.
That's just one finding in a new report titled "Crisis and Adaptation: Storefront Trends in the East Village, 2019 – 2021."
The report, released by the Cooper Square Committee, Village Preservation and East Village Community Coalition, provides a deep dive into the neighborhood's commercial landscape that builds off of the 2019 "East Village Commercial District Needs Assessment" to give a 2021 snapshot of the EV commercial district.
The report identifies changes in the commercial district since 2019 and current challenges facing the small businesses in the neighborhood, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The report's authors say it depicts a picture of survival amidst ongoing challenges that have led to the closure of numerous local businesses.
The findings are based on an on-the-ground survey conducted in the fall of 2021 that recorded business information or vacancy status for all first and second-floor storefronts in the East Village. In addition, the report draws on merchant experiences shared through a recent survey and interviews with small business owners.
Among the findings:
- Of the vacant storefronts observed in 2021, 171 are new vacancies and 149 were also vacant in 2019.
- Medium and large landlords (6-60 buildings) own buildings with a majority of storefront spaces overall and own properties with disproportionately high rates of new vacancies, business closures since 2019, and persistent vacancies.
- From 2019-2021, 336 businesses in the East Village closed while 261 new ones opened their doors.
- Accommodation and Food Services businesses declined over twice as much as Retail Trade and all Other Categories, which remained relatively stable. Accommodation and Food Service establishments declined by 6%; Retail Trade businesses by 2%.
- 13 businesses expanded in the neighborhood, and 17 relocated to new locations within the neighborhood boundaries.
The report concludes, in part:
Set against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, the years from 2019 to 2021 saw a variety of changes to the East Village commercial district. The number of vacant storefronts in the neighborhood grew as many merchants struggled to keep their businesses afloat and some were forced to shutter their doors.While some business categories grew, others faced decline or remained stable. Growing businesses andThese changes within the commercial district reflect the many challenges that merchants face during ordinary times as well as new challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.Respondents to the Merchant Survey reported that the top three challenges they face relate to their commercial rent/lease, finding skilled workers, and marketing/advertising costs. Other notable challenges that merchants face are gaining access to loans/credit/ financing and labor costs.To overcome these challenges, it is essential that merchants in the East Village continue to receive small-business support and resources in order to ensure their businesses can prosper and grow.
There's a lot to unpack in the 20-page report, which you can read here. We plan to look at some other findings in the days ahead.