Yesterday, Nike handed over the keys to their Main Street store landlord.
This summer, Ann Taylor and Allen Edmonds follow.
That will leave 3 empty stores out of 4 in a row — smack in the middle of downtown.
Skip Lane — retail director for Cushman & Wakefield, the leasing brokers — minces no words.
“It’s a scary time for retail,” the Westport native and Staples High School graduate says. “Nobody knows where this will end.”
Nike has vacated 5,600 square feet of space. Ann Taylor leases 4,000 square feet; Allen Edmonds, 2,000.
That will be dwarfed when the GGP Mall opens off I-95 Exit 15 in Norwalk. It’s huge — and, Lane says, the only enclosed mall under construction in the entire country.
“It can kill street retail,” he predicts. “Rents will be lower, and foot traffic will be higher.”
Rents for stores like Nike are now in the $130 per square foot range, Lane says. Recent deals, he notes, are around $80 to $90.
Right now, there are 20 or so vacancies in downtown Westport. Lane worries the number will climb.
“I’m a cheerleader for the town,” he says. “But a few more hits, and it will be tumbleweeds down there.”
He offers a partial solution: “Stop using Amazon. Support your retailers. Shop local!”