With retail chains spreading throughout New York City like some sort of insatiable consumer cancer, we increasingly feel like we're stuck in a Fleetwood Mac song. Even when some close others just rise up in their ashes. But don't take our word for it, just ask the Center For An Urban Future which just released its fifth annual State of the Chains report on NYC's retail homogenization [PDF]. Spoiler alert: you will never break the chain(s).
According to the Center, there was a 2.4 percent increase in the total number of chains in the city last year—up from the 1.8 percent growth in the last two years. Now there are 7,190 outposts for 310 retailers in town while last year there were just 7,019. The only borough where there was not a growth in chain presence was Staten Island, which saw a 0.7 decrease. And the Island can live with that anyway—thanks to the Mall there, the New Springfield ZIP code is already the most chained ZIP in the city. Further, the Bronx, which saw a 4.3 percent increase from 809 stores to 844, certainly made up for SI's loss. As for the other boroughs: Manhattan, which actually had a decrease in the number of chains between 2010 and 2011, saw a 2.6 percent increase this year. And Brooklyn and Queens were up 2.6 and 2.1 percent, respectively.
So which chains are most common? Dunkin' Donuts is still number one in town with 484 stores (up 18) but it is far from alone in the big numbers club. There are still far more Subway locations (454), for instance, in NYC than there are actual subway stations. And the 272 Starbucks (up 9), 246 Duane Reades (down 1), and 241 McDonalds (down 1) are not exactly easy to ignore.
As for which chains are on the up and up, in the last year NY Sports's Club expanded to 53 locations from 42, 7-Eleven went from 83 to 98 and GNC jumped from 131 locations in 2011 to 143. But what really should scare you is that 7-Eleven number. Because back in 2009 there were only 59 of them in the five boroughs!
To see the full depressing report, read on: