Retail is a tricky sector at the moment. “The retail market is of some concern for obvious reasons, like online shopping,” says Westchester County Association President and CEO Bill Mooney Jr. “We worry about Main Street, which is deteriorating a bit. You see too many vacant stores.”
But many Westchester retailers are generally positive in their outlook for 2019. “In the past few months, we have seen a climbing trend, with repeat and new clients shopping in all different categories of our store,” says Miira Carestia, operating vice president general manager of Bloomingdale’s in White Plains.
“Our business is about the same as it was last year, and I foresee much the same for the coming months,” offers Rob Woodrow of Woodrow Jewelers in Rye.
Both say that upscale retailing is stronger than the mid-market. “The upscale sector definitely has an advantage,” Carestia points out. “There is less competition in the market, and the assortments are more unique and scarce. Also, it is a little less affected by the e-commerce trend.”
“The upscale sector definitely has an advantage. There is less competition in the market, and the assortments are more unique and scarce. Also, it is a little less affected by the e-commerce trend.”
—Miira Carestia, Operating Vice President General Manager, Bloomingdale’s
Woodrow agrees, adding, “One of the strengths of our business is that we have both expensive and inexpensive items. We can sit all day with nothing going on and them someone comes in and buys a Breitling watch or a $10,000 necklace and changes the whole day. As a jewelry store, you have that cushion.”
Automobile sales are solid at the retail level, too, according to Augie DiFeo, general manager of White Plains Chrysler Jeep Dodge. “From the standpoint of our dealership, we showed increases every month in 2018, which is a little bit contrary to the rest of the country. Realistically, 2019 looks promising. Corporate prognostications are positive, and we haven’t felt a dip, so I’m optimistic.”
Bedford-based General Knot, which sells men’s ties and other fashion accessories, both online and through brick-and-mortar stores — including Old New House in Katonah and PORCH Home + Gifts in Mount Kisco — is also optimistic. “It’s been pretty steady,” says co-owner Ann Payne. “In the past year or two, we’ve brought in unisex products, like tote bags, carryalls, and travel kits. That helps us through some of the slow cycles in fashion, and we’ve never had a downturn.” To further expand the business in 2018, they launched a sister brand, aimed at women buyers, named Knickers and Whiskey, which they plan to expand in 2019.