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Manhattan Retail Availability Rate Reaches Lowest Percentage in Nearly a Decade While Average Asking Rents Increase

Jayden Lapin-Tatman • 4/25/2024

New York, NY –Cushman & Wakefield, a leading global real estate services firm, today released its first quarter 2024 retail statistics for Manhattan, revealing the market’s retail availability rate is the lowest it’s been in nearly a decade, while investment sales demand continued its strong streak into the first quarter.

“In the first quarter of 2024, Manhattan's retail landscape has shown impressive strength, with availability rates plummeting to their lowest in nearly a decade, indicating a robust demand for prime retail spaces, particularly in high-demand areas like SoHo and Madison Avenue,” said Dana Mischler, Senior Research Analyst. “This surge in demand has led to consecutive quarterly increases in asking rents across the board, with notable rises in the Madison Avenue and SoHo submarkets, where rents have surpassed pre-pandemic levels. Such trends underscore a vibrant retail sector poised for continued growth, driven by strategic leasing and the scarcity of prime locations, reflecting a healthy recovery and optimism in New York City's retail market."

At the start of the first quarter, Manhattan’s retail availability rate was 14.1%, the lowest it’s been in nearly a decade and just 0.8% shy of Q1 2015 availability when the market was at its peak.*

Demand for top-tier locations remained strong into the start of the year, particularly in the SoHo and Madison Avenue submarkets where the supply of prime spaces remains the tightest. Nine out of the 11 tracked submarkets saw annual decreases in availability.

25 new leases signed in the SoHo submarket kept availability at the lowest in a decade, closing the quarter at 11.7%. The market experienced continued consecutive quarterly increases in asking rents, averaging $358 per square foot (psf), a 12.2% increase year-over-year (YOY). Rents in the submarket have officially surpassed pre-pandemic figures, where the Q1 2020 average asking rent was $350 psf.

Retail availability in the Madison Avenue submarket closed Q1 at 12.3%, the corridor’s lowest since Q2 2015. The tightening of available space along the Avenue has translated to consistent increases in asking rents, averaging $892 psf in Q1, up 11.8% YOY and up 21.4% from Q4 2021 when Madison Avenue rents hit their lowest at $735 psf. Average asking rents in the submarket are returning to their pre-pandemic range, inching closer to the $900 psf-range from 2019. After record leasing velocity in 2022, 52 leases were signed on Madison Avenue in 2023. The lack of available prime space along the Avenue from 57th to 72nd Street has pushed demand north, resulting in 16 new leases signed between 64th and 86th Streets in the first quarter. 

The Flatiron/Union Square submarket’s availability remains tight at 15.2%, a -2.7% decrease YOY. The lack of prime space available in the submarket pushed the average asking rent to $360 psf, a 19.2% increase from Q1 2022.

Fifth Avenue Midtown, which struggled with high rents and availability in 2019, continued its momentum into 2024. Availability along Lower Fifth Avenue, from 42nd to 49th Street, was at 16.7%, down -14.8% YOY. Asking rents on Lower Fifth have continued to increase, up 9.3% YOY at $646 psf. The luxury corridor along Upper Fifth Avenue, from 49th to 60th Street, ended the quarter at with a 17.4% availability rate, a -10.1% decrease from five years ago when availability was at its highest at 27.5% in Q4 of 2018. Pricing along Upper Fifth Avenue remains elevated despite rental discounts across most Manhattan retail submarkets, closing the first quarter with an average asking rent of $2,395 psf.

Both Lower Manhattan and the Meatpacking District experienced a positive turnaround in leasing velocity. Activity in Lower Manhattan was driven by national quick service restaurants, health clubs and cosmetic tenants expanding their footprint downtown as tourism and office occupancy return. While leasing activity brought the availability rate down a modest -0.6% quarter-over-quarter, continued momentum in Lower Manhattan is expected.

Seven new leases signed by luxury apparel and wellness tenants in the Meatpacking District supported a -2.0% annual decrease in available space, closing the quarter at 24%. While overall availability has hovered around 23.0% since 2020, space along Gansevoort and Washington Streets remains tight as prominent apparel and accessories brands continue to prioritize having a retail presence in the neighborhood.

“Manhattan's retail investment sales soared to a new five-year high in the first quarter, reaching a total volume of $1.3 billion, the highest since the second quarter of 2019. This robust activity, with luxury retailers accounting for four of the six largest transactions since December, signifies a reinvigorated market that continues to exceed expectations," said Tanner Cain, Research Manager.

The standout first quarter sales demand was mostly propelled by luxury retailers, most of whom are cash buyers circumventing the tough financing environment. In January, Kering (Gucci, Balenciaga, etc.) purchased 715-717 Fifth Avenue for $963 million and the Marsan Family (fashion brand Brandy Melville) acquired 545 Broadway for $33 million. Even without Kering’s mega-transaction of the quarter, dollar volume would have reached $318 million, well above the 2019-2023 quarterly average of $220 million.

As fundamentals become increasingly well-positioned and investment momentum increases, values continue to rise amidst high-priced transactions. Average retail price psf in the first quarter was $2,564, 26.6% higher than year-end 2023 and the highest average since 2018.

*This availability rate encompasses only C&W's statistical submarkets, which are the prime retail corridors of Manhattan.

About Cushman & Wakefield

Cushman & Wakefield (NYSE: CWK) is a leading global commercial real estate services firm for property owners and occupiers with approximately 52,000 employees in nearly 400 offices and 60 countries. In 2023, the firm reported revenue of $9.5 billion across its core services of property, facilities and project management, leasing, capital markets, and valuation and other services. It also receives numerous industry and business accolades for its award-winning culture and commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), sustainability and more. For additional information, visit

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