After Bed Bath & Beyond announced it would be closing all its store in Manhattan except its one flagship store in Chelsea, shoppers aired their concern about the future of retail in the city.
The home goods chain announced 150 store closures nationwide Monday in a regulatory filing as part of a strategy to avoid filing for bankruptcy.
The list of upcoming closures includes all of Bed Bath & Beyond’s New York City locations except for its recently renovated flagship store at 620 Sixth Ave. in Chelsea. Stores on the Upper West Side and in Kips Bay are among the doomed locations on the list.
The moves come as big box retailers adapt to a climate in which more New Yorkers than ever are relying on online shopping, but a vocal contingent of in-person shoppers amNY interviewed outside the Chelsea location defended the merits of brick and mortar stores.
“It’s a sad reflection on the results of the lockdown, the pandemic and Amazon, sadly. I mean, my heart goes more out to the mom-and-pops, but it’s just sad to see something that just seemed like it’d be around forever to be such slim pickings and going this way,” said George Liter on his way out of the store.
The city has said that roughly 2.4 million packages are delivered in the city every day — around a 60% increase from before the pandemic. In 2019, there were more than 1.5 million packages delivered across the five boroughs every day, according to the New York Times.
In the years following the pandemic online home goods deliveries had the second highest proportion of new adopters after grocery deliveries, according to a study conducted by José Holguín-Veras and Cara Wang, professors at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Though the survey marked an increase in online deliveries, it also showed that consumers’ technology acceptance is much more complex during a pandemic than during normal conditions, and raises that some online shopping trends boosted by the pandemic may revert back over time.
Raquel Arnold, who had trekked out to 620 Sixth Ave. shopping complex, which also includes Marshall’s and TJ Maxx, to get a last-minute birthday gift for her daughter said she didn’t think online shopping would ever fully supercede brick-and-mortars.
“I am nervous about that, but not that nervous. Like they closed all of the Toys ‘R’ Us, and they brought them back,” she said. “Today is my daughter’s birthday and I can’t order anything online. I have to go into a store.”
Other shoppers raised other aspects of in-person shopping that can’t be replaced by the online experience.
“I like to see things first. You order it and you get it and you’re like, that’s not really what I wanted. Could be the color could just be slightly off,” remarked Queens resident Hector Fernandez.
Another shopper who identified herself as Laurie agreed. “As an older person, I like going and looking at the particular thing that I wanna see,” she said.
Fernandez added that he thought the social aspect of shopping was important.
“I like to interact with humans,” he said.
The building housing the remaining Chelsea Bed, Bath & Beyond was constructed as the Siegel-Cooper Dry Goods Store, an ornate “Beaux-Arts” style development that was the first steel-framed department store in NYC, and was reputed to be the biggest store in the world when it opened.
Bed, Bath & Beyond reconfigured its store there in 2021 after the home goods chain signed a new lease. It’s surrounded by massive big box retailers like Old Navy and the Container Store.
Victor Rodriuez said he liked having clusters of stores around to give him new home ideas and options. He didn’t find what he was looking for at Home Goods, so he was off to the other side of the street to peruse the Container Store.
“Sometimes [in a store] you just get ideas for things that you need, you know?” he said.