The Daytime Employee Retail Market

DANTH’s research found that people working in Midtown Manhattan walk longer on their lunch time shopping trips than employees in other downtowns. This fact, combined with Midtown’s enormous employment density, means that retailers will have much larger and denser “employee trade areas” than their colleagues in other downtowns. A retailer located at the intersection of 45th Street and Madison Avenue, for example, will be able to tap employees within a 2,253 ft. walking distance. Notice that because of Manhattan’s street grid, the walking -distance defined trade area looks like a diamond, not a radius-defined ring.

Street Grid

  • This would mean that 70% of their office worker customers would come from this area, while the remaining 30% come from the rest of the Midtown area
  • Such a store could easily tap the 194,910 people working in 137 Class A office buildings in the primary office worker trade area plus another 83,533 from the rest of Midtown
  • These 278,443 employees represent 63.1% of all Midtown office workers and they spend about $759.8 million per year on workday retail items and food
  • Others workers within the “trade area”, such as those in retail shops and Class B buildings, as well as blue collar workers would spend many additional dollars

The Tourist Market

DANTH also found that the tourist market is a very important one for many midtown retailers, but many others are either unaware of the tourists or to capture their dollars.

Many tourists are attracted to the Grand Central District and adjacent areas. Fifth, Park and Madison Avenues are major tourist attractions as are Grand Central Terminal, the New York Public Library and the nearby Empire State Building, UN Building and Rockefeller Center. The Empire State attracts about 3 million visitors each year, the U.N has about 500,000 visitors and the New York Public Library attracts about 900,000. Also, within a 15 minute walk of the intersection of Madison Avenue and 48th Street are 69 major hotels and clubs with a total of 28,307 rooms.


These tourists, especially those from abroad, spend a significant amount in retail shops during their stays in New York City. For example, DANTH estimated that:

  • The international tourists staying in hotels located within a 15 minute walk of Madison Avenue and 48th Street spent an estimated $305 million in New York retail shops in 1993
  • The 1,050,000 international visitors to the Empire State Building in 1993 spent an estimated $237.6 million in New York retail shops
  • Some major retailers reported to DANTH that sales to shoppers who live somewhere beyond the New York metropolitan area account for 25-45% of their business.

Enhancing The Ability of Retailers To Attract Tourist Shoppers

To help retailers in the 34th Street BID enhance their ability to attract tourist shoppers, DANTH worked with a task force composed of local retailers and the BID’s staff to formulate an action program with the following elements:

  •  Creating a distinctive district identity and image
  • Providing district discounts and incentives
  • A district brochure/ directory
  • Creating links to local hotels
  • Placing advertisements in publications sent to tour operators