Edward Helmore writes:
Walk down almost any major New York street – say Fifth Avenue near Trump Tower, or Madison Avenue from midtown to the Upper East Side. Perhaps venture down Canal Street, or into the West Village around Bleecker, and some of the most expensive retail areas in the world are blitzed with vacant storefronts.
Helmore is describing the "retail apocalypse"—except instead of suburban malls, these closures are visiting some of the most urban commercial corridors in the world. And in New York, compared to other places in the United States, the blame is less likely to be laid at the feet of online retailers like Amazon.
Jeremiah Moss, author of the website and book Vanishing New York, is cited in the article saying high rents are the problem. Helmore explains more: "Part of the problem is the changing make-up of New York landlords. Many are no longer mom-and-pop operations, but institutional investors and hedge funds that are unwilling to drop rents to match retail conditions."
The article includes more detail on the business side of retail operations and commercial land ownership in New York City, along with descriptions of the effect of the closures on the ground in New York's neighborhoods.