The Center for an Urban Future has followed up last year's hit "Attack of the Chains" study with a terrifying new sequel: "Return of the Chains." [pdf] They're back, their power is growing, and not even the recession can stop them from ultimately setting up shop inside your skull. Since last year's report about national retailers' footprints across our increasingly homogeneous city, over 30 percent of the chain retailers have expanded their presence. Dunkin' Donuts tops the list for the second straight year, with 429 locations city-wide, despite losing 12 of its stores to the Tim Horton’s invasion and facing blatant NYPD pilfering. According to the report, Dunkin' added 88 new stores in the five boroughs since July 2008.
The thorough study includes a breakdown of 277 national retailers that have two or more stores in NYC, broken down by every borough and zip code. After Dunkin' Donuts, which opened 1,300 outlets worldwide in 2008, the other top of ambassadors of generic suburban ubiquity are Subway (361 locations), Starbucks (258), McDonald's (258), Duane Reade (229), and Baskin-Robbins (207). Those chains all added stores in the past 12 months. TGI Friday's, which plans to open in Union Square unless Twitter users can stop it, has a mere 11 locations.
Jonathan Bowles, the director of the center, tells City Room, "We certainly expected more national chains shrinking and going out of business. That’s the part of this that perplexes me the most. There may have been some stores which have seen the decline of real estate prices as an opportunity." The recession has definitely hurt smaller businesses, which have less margin of error to survive hard times, but not all the big chains have boomed during the bust. According to the study, Circuit City, Burritoville, Levitz, 1-800-Mattress and KB Toys are just some of the stores that have declared bankruptcy in the last year, while Rite Aid, Blimpie, AT&T Wireless and several others have considerably reduced their NYC presence.