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RETAIL RETURNS TO NYC: With rents on the decline in New York, there is plenty of cheap space available for retailers on the prowl. Jones Apparel Group is one that’s taking advantage of the increased opportunities. Nine West’s parent recently secured a flagship space at International Plaza, 750 Lexington Ave., for its newest retail concept, Shoe Woo. Faith Hope Consolo, chairman of the retail leasing division at Prudential Douglas Elliman, who worked on the deal, told Footwear News the store is set to open this summer. Real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield also is optimistic about retail opportunities in Manhattan and highlighted the borough’s expansive availability during a presentation last week on first-quarter trends. “The worst is behind us,” said Ken McCarthy, Cushman’s managing director of the New York area, who expects conditions to gradually improve by 2010. “Retail is holding its own,” added Joe Harbert, COO of the firm’s New York metro region. “[Transactions] are now back at 2007 levels, and 2007 was not a bad year.” In the first quarter of 2009, many of Manhattan’s submarkets saw significant declines in asking rents. Most notably, the section of Fifth Avenue between 42nd and 49th streets — where availability is the highest of all Manhattan shopping neighborhoods — saw ground-floor asking rents fall 20 percent to $596 per square foot, from $743 per foot at the end of 2008. Madison Avenue’s ground-floor rents dropped 10 percent to $947 per square foot in the first quarter, representing the first time in two years the shopping stretch between 57th and 72nd streets has fallen below $1,000. Soho’s average ground-floor asking rents dropped to $241 per square foot, a 14 percent decrease from this time last year, while on the Upper West Side, along Broadway from 60th to 86th streets, average ground-floor asking rents dropped 7 percent from last year, to $344 per square foot.
— JESSICA PALLAY & LINDSAY E. SAMMON
TEEN CHOICES: Although teen spending on fashion-related items took a nosedive this spring, footwear remains a bright spot for young consumers, according to the most recent “Taking Stock with Teens” survey conducted by Piper Jaffray. Footwear spending in spring ’09 increased by 4 percent from the same period last year, while fashion purchases as a whole dropped by 14 percent. “Footwear is emerging as the trend-right status item of choice for teens,” Jeffrey Klinefelter, a senior research analyst at Piper Jaffray, said in the report. Nike remained the most sought-after footwear brand for both girls and boys, growing its market share by 2 percentage points to represent the top brand among 33 percent of all students polled. Ugg Australia made a significant jump in the rankings, coming in as the second-hottest brand for all students polled, with 7 percent of the votes. Steve Madden, on the other hand, dropped to the No. 5 slot of preferred footwear brands, after ranking within the top three for all students since Piper Jaffray began its survey in fall ’02. The report also highlighted a trend toward more male shoe shopping. For the first time since fall ’06, young men said they allotted a higher percentage of their spending for footwear than their female counterparts, although their total annual shoe bill — $202 per year versus $333 for women — still lags behind.
RECALL WRAP: Wal-Mart Stores Inc. was the target of two voluntary shoe recalls last week. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission deemed Buster Brown & Co.’s Cars Fleece Clog children’s shoe a choking hazard due to its four detachable decorative wheels. (Buster Brown is owned by St. Louis-based Brown Shoe Co.) About 91,000 pairs of the shoes, manufactured by Pagoda International Footwear Ltd., of Hong Kong, were distributed in the U.S. and Canada. The commission also recalled about 200,000 pairs of women’s pointed-toe slingback shoes from Wal-Mart’s George line, manufactured by Joyfair Footwear, of Taipei, Taiwan, due to a falling hazard.