Spent Black Friday (as well as several days prior) checking out holiday windows and the shopping vibe in NYC.
Here’s my (unscientific) takeaway:
- All the major retailers have dialed back their holiday decorations and are making do with less. It looks like budgets may have been slashed by 25% or more.
- There was significantly less traffic above 54th street where most of the luxury retailers are located.
- The side avenues (e.g. Madison, 2nd, 3rd) were particularly forlorn and the lack of foot traffic made all the vacant storefronts standout even more.
- Conversely, Fifth Avenue below 53rd street was jam-packed – primarily tourists toting lots of shopping bags.
- The most frequent shopping bags, both uptown and downtown, were from Uniqlo (especially the black KAWS Peanuts bag), H&M, Victoria’s Secret and Adidas.
- Strictly uptown: LEGO bags (the store at Rockefeller Center had lines around the block) and Furla – some women (tourists) struggling to carry up to 10 bags from the store!
Headed back downtown mid-afternoon. Sardine-ville. The streets, especially around Broadway between Houston and Broome, were packed. I also discovered several more pop ups in Soho (the area’s 20% retail vacancy rate is giving brands lots of great spaces to choose from):
- Yankee Candle (503 Broadway): super fun, very popular with millennial instagrammers. First rate – color me impressed!!
- Pornhub (70 Wooster) – a big hit with guys. Expect to see lots of PornHub hats and t-shirts after Christmas. Tight security, checking ID (have to be 18-plus). Very chic.
- Em Pty Gallery (55 Mercer) – HUGE line for this. I was not familiar with this name and need to investigate more. Here’s some background per Hypebeast: Off-White™ just officially opened the doors to its new New York City outpost in the heart of SoHo. Known as the EM PTY GALLERY — which was also seen as a pop-up in Paris during the city’s Fashion Week — the retail space is a grand view of Virgil Abloh‘s interior design plan for his popular label. Abloh explains in an interview with Vogue that “the brand is not just about buying the clothes,” but rather more about the experience one has in an Off-White™ store, “the crescendo of the Off-White™ language” and therefore each of his stores are created specifically for the culture they live in.
BOTTOM LINE: Black Friday has lost its significance. I sensed no urgency among shoppers to get a deal. It was not until mid-afternoon that the crowds swelled. Most of the people I saw with shopping bags were tourists. Everyone else came out for the “seasonal experience” and will do their shopping online with their cellphone.
See below for photos of Black Friday 2017 in NYC.