• 07.12.17

    Newsday: Online shopping not forcing stores out of business, panelists say

By Victor Ocasio (

Despite the continued growth of online shopping, brick-and-mortar retail isn’t going the way of the dinosaurs, some of Long Island’s top real estate executives said Tuesday.

Speaking at a roundtable discussion hosted by the Institute of Real Estate at Hofstra University, a panel representing developers and brokerage and investment firms spoke about some of the challenges the region faces, including the state of retail space locally.

“The whole notion of the retail apocalypse is a joke,” said Joshua Weinkranz, Northeast region president for Kimco Realty Corp., a New Hyde Park-based real estate investment trust and the largest publicly traded owner of open-air shopping centers in the United States. “Our shopping centers are not emptying out because of the internet.”

E-commerce — which has grown at double-digit percentage rates every year since 2005 except during the recession, according to U.S. Department of Commerce data — is “weeding out the weak retailers,” Weinkranz said. Businesses need to evolve if they want to succeed and not become a “dinosaur,” he said.

As of April, more than 20 retailers with locations on Long Island have filed for bankruptcy in the last three years, according to a Newsday analysis. In addition to competition from online retailers like Amazon, which hosted its Prime Day savings promotion Tuesday, brick-and-mortar businesses are also challenged by falling sales, growing debt loads and the oversaturation of stores.

“Retailers need to pivot,” said Jayson Siano, co-founder and chief executive of Garden City-based commercial brokerage Sabre Real Estate.

While some retailers might see the region as a challenge, given its higher property taxes, David Orwasher, chief development officer at Breslin Realty Development Corp., said the region presents a great opportunity for retailers.

“It’s a tremendous bed of activity and aggregated wealth,” he said.

On the subject of the Long Island Rail Road’s nearly $2 billion third-track project, panelists agreed that the infrastructure work is needed and will be beneficial for development.

Ed Blumenfeld, president and founder of Syosset-based developer Blumenfeld Development Group, said that while the project would be “disruptive for a number of years,” the overall outcome would be “phenomenal” for Long Island.

“You have to build the environment, and then the businesses will come,” Blumenfeld said. “I think we’re going to have great opportunities.”

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