There is more to setting up shop in the US than renting an expensive unit on Manhattan Island.
Staten Island is the one borough in the five that comprise New York where even adventurous metropolitan explorers are unlikely to have made landfall.
It is the overlooked part of the megalopolis, a place where a lot of people live and then travel elsewhere to work.
“Manhattan certainly has footfall, but the massive H&M on Fifth Avenue will need this just to pay the rent”
As such, it is perfect for Primark for a variety of reasons – and is set to be the first Big Apple location for the discount retailer, later this year.
The perfectly reasonable question would have to be why not Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, or even Manhattan?
Starting with Manhattan, the simple answer is price.
H&M may be the uncrowned prince of cheap fashion on this prime retail real estate island, but this is unlikely to mean it trades more profitably here than elsewhere, as the rent is so high.
Manhattan certainly has footfall, but the massive H&M on Fifth Avenue will need this just to pay the rent.
Not worth it
It is hard to escape the feeling that corporate hubris is part of the reason retailers are drawn to the ritzier parts of Manhattan, and that in some cases they might actually be better advised to cross the Hudson and set up shop in one of the large New Jersey malls.
The same might be said of Brooklyn, or at least the parts of that borough that retailers want to be in.
The trendier areas of Brooklyn are fine, but it might not provide a ready welcome for Primark.
“Setting up shop on Manhattan looks fine, but many have found that the price of entry is ultimately too high and retreat”
Finally, there are Queens and the Bronx.
Both might be suitable for a cut-price fashion operation with more than a dash of style, but their populations are spread over a fairly substantial area.
However, for the long-term the boroughs still look a better bet for Primark than a very expensive unit on one of the big Manhattan avenues.
Which brings us back to Staten Island. It’s a journey to get there and those that live there will probably remain on the island at the weekend, or once home on a weekday evening – meaning there will be more time to shop.
Setting up shop in Manhattan looks fine, but many retailers have found that the price of entry is ultimately too high.
Primark’s approach to arriving in New York is different. And it will almost certainly work.