Blame shoplifting scourge, blasé lawmakers for worst case of storefront vacancies since COVID


Vacant storefronts are both a sign and a cause of economic distress — and they’ve nearly doubled in the city since the pandemic.

Per the city Department of Finance, more than 11% of Big Apple storefronts now sit empty, discouraging nearby commerce and attracting disorder.

“They are creating havoc because there is homeless, garbage, and the business next door hurts,” City Councilwoman Gale Brewer, whose Upper West Side district has been hit hard by the vacancies, told The Post.

But her fellow progressives seem pretty clueless about their own responsibility here.

It’s hard to keep a retail shop running when city and state lawmakers micromanage what you have to pay workers and how you can schedule shifts, and even mandate benefits.

Not to mention the high taxes they impose and the get-out-of-jail-free cards they issue to even chronic shoplifters.

Brewer’s colleagues prefer to blame “picky landlords.”

Ha! As The Post’s Steve Cuozzo notes, landlords’ desperation for tenants amid these vacancies has opened the door to the hundreds of illegal cannabis shops sprouting like mushrooms across the city.

Councilman Oswald Feliz, chair of the Committee on Small Business, isn’t oblivious to rampant retail theft as an underlying cause.

“There’s a Walgreens one minute away from where I live that’s closing down due to retail theft,” Feliz (D-Bronx) said. “Anytime I speak to a small business that is literally the very first issue they bring to us.” 

Yet city and state lawmakers have worked overtime to hamstring the police, making cops personally liable if an incident goes wrong and “reforming” criminal justice to embolden criminals.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) refused to back stiffer penalties for retail thefts and assaults on store clerks.

The speaker seems unconcerned that shoplifting cost retailers statewide some $4.4 billion in 2022.

Year after year, he leads the charge against even targeted tightening of the no-bail law and other “reforms”; now he even claims that increasing penalties doesn’t deter crime.

And so the city suffers repeat offenders regularly raiding the same shops as well as organized gangs invading supermarkets, jewelry, clothing and drug stores like schools of frenzied piranhas.

In response, storeowners limit customer entry and lock up the goods, even the toothpaste — alienating shoppers and hurting business.

Official crime stats understate the problem, as despairing shopkeepers don’t bother to report crimes that won’t get punished even if cops nab the perp.

All while store staff who dare interfere risk harm — or even indictment if the perp gets injured.

New York needs a political climate change — to one that’ll support the law-abiding, welcome small businesses and lock up criminals.

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Las Vegas News Magazine

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