Our Take: The State of the Chains



And finally, some good news on the development front to ease out 2015.

The Center for An Urban Future, in its eighth annual ranking on chain stores in the city, reports that growth in national chains slowed considerably over last year -- and that growth in established neighborhoods like the Upper East Side, Upper West Side, and some parts of lower Manhaattan dropped sharply.

For neighborhoods moaning the loss of mom and pop stores and restaurants -- and neighbors worried about the fraying fabric of where they live -- this is only good news. Maybe people’s buying habits are finally starting to come back to the little guys.

While we’ll take any bit of good news on this front, a couple of caveats are in order: the report focuses on slowing growth of the chains -- not an overall decline in their number. According to the data, chain store locations in the city grew by 1 percent in 2015, to 7,550 stores. The previous year, the growth was 2.5 percent; this year’s rise is lower than all previous years except 2013.

The other insight worth noting is that while chain store growth is slowing in gentrified neighborhoods in Manhattan, it’s surging elsewhere, particularly in the outer boroughs. What that tells us is that a real turnaround is still some ways off.

But let’s not quibble. It’s been a rough year on the development front for our city, with more megatowers going up, neighborhood institutions going down, affordable apartments making way for luxury. City officials seem unwilling, or unable, to take it on.

We’ll take the chain-story survey as a good omen as we head into the new year.

Here’s to continued progress in 2016, for our city, our neighborhoods, and our readers and families.