Many Await Findings Of An Economic Committee Report Submitted In August
By Tina Traster
The national retail apocalypse is impacting Rockland County, and particularly Clarkstown where recent store closures include Lord & Taylor, Fairway, Sears, Macy’s, Toys R Us, and more.
In light of these uncertain times, many have been awaiting the findings of a report that’s been submitted by an economic committee Supervisor George Hoehmann appointed in February.
The committee submitted their report to Supervisor Hoehmann in August with recommendations for economic growth in the town but one source told RCBJ that Hoehmann has said he wants to withhold the report from the public until after the Nov. 5th election.
“He said he didn’t want to rock the boat until after the elections,” the source said.
“Why are we putting the town’s financial health on the back burner while we wait for the election season to play out?” said Councilman Patrick Carroll, who said he has not seen the report but has requested a copy.
Hoehmann did not respond to an inquiry on the matter from RCBJ.
Explaining the closure of Fairway Market at the Shops of Nanuet this week, Abel Porter, Chief Executive Officer at Fairway Market, said “based on the closure of other retailers within The Shops at Nanuet, the store was not receiving the foot traffic we once experienced. This is an isolated business decision in which we will reinvest resources into our existing stores in order to continue the forward movement of the Fairway brand.”
The announcement follows the closing of both Sears and Macy’s at The Shops at Nanuet, resulting in a decrease in overall consumer activity, which has directly impacted the Fairway Market Nanuet business, the company said.
The Shops of Nanuet, is filled with a roster of stores that are faltering, restructuring or closing multiple locations. The list includes Victoria Secret, Chico’s, J. Jill, Jos. A Bank, Bath & Body Works, Coach, Michael Kors, Express, BJs Restaurant and Brewhouse.
Clarkstown is under pressure to stimulate economic growth that is less reliant on big box retail.
Gap will close 50 of its company-owned stores this year to a total of 250 over the next two years. CEO Art Peck said it would continue to open new locations, explaining the closures reflect “the wrong stores in the wrong locations.”
The town’s business and economic development advisory committee was tasked with stimulating commerce in the Nanuet/Route 59 corridor.
Several members of advisory committee have said a top priority is for Clarkstown to resolve its dispute with the Palisades Center. The mall is fighting Clarkstown over a town-imposed restriction limiting its right to build out and lease an existing but unused 240,000-square-foot section on the mall’s fourth floor. The 1.85 million square foot mall needs town and voter approval in order to expand.
The next seven years are going to be tough for retail, which is why Clarkstown is under pressure to stimulate economic growth that is less reliant on big box retail.
A sweeping restructuring and downsizing of physical retail will occur through 2026, as the penetration of online retail rises to 25% from its current 16% market share. Called “store rationalization” in an analysis from UBS, it finds that with each 1% increase in online penetration, some 8,000 to 8,500 stores will need to close.
At its current rate that means some 75,000 stores will be forced out of business by 2026, or about 7% of the 1,044,754 retail establishments in the U.S. today, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The sword will fall unevenly depending upon the retail sector and the rate of penetration online sales are expected to have.
Clothing stores will take the biggest hit, losing an excess of some 21,000 stores out of the current 82,200, or some 25%. Consumer electronics stores will drop by 10,000 stores, or 25% of the 39,000 currently standing.
Home furnishings will lose 8,000 stores (32% of its current 25,300) and home improvement stores will drop by 1,000 (about 7% of the nation’s 14,500 hardware stores).
And the number of grocery stores will fall by 7,000, or 8%, from current 89,500 levels, if online penetration rises to 10% from its current 2% level.
Claiming a 96% accuracy rate, it reports Neiman Marcus, J. Crew, Francesca’s and Rite Aid top the list of at-risk retailers with a FRISK score of 1, which indicates a 9.99% to 50% chance of bankruptcy.
Less likely candidates, but no less threatened with a FRISK score of 2 with a 4% to 9.99% chance of bankruptcy over the next 12 months, are J.C. Penney, Pier 1, Ascena Retail Group (Ann Taylor, Loft, Dress Barn and Lane Bryant among others), Destination Maternity, Camp World Holdings (Gander Outdoors), Overstock.com, Stein Mart, Tailored Brands (Men’s Warehouse and Jos. A. Bank), Blue Apron and Steinhoff International Holdings (Mattress Firm).