Fifth Avenue of New York City is long known to be one of the most prestigious streets in the world. From 49th Street to 60th Street, it's home to some of the most luxurious brands in retail, dining, arts, and culture, attracting wealthy locals and tourists alike since the turn of the 20th century.
And while classic stores line the street, such as Gucci, Bergdorf Goodman, and Tiffany & Co., they have a fierce competitor: online shopping. While most retail sales are still occurring in the typical in-person setting, the shift from brick-and-mortar stores to online continues to grow as we emerge into a world of continuously changing technology.
So how do businesses compete with the appeal of the convenience of shopping from your own home with the click of a button? Fifth Avenue has an idea: becoming experiential.
Stores are now beginning to offer what online shopping cannot -- a physical experience where interactivity and customer service go hand in hand. Customers are enticed by the idea of having an experience while shopping, leading them to associate the products with an enjoyable memory of the multi-sensory encounter the stores present to them while encouraging them to, in turn, build loyalty with the product even more.
Jerome Barth became the new president of the Fifth Avenue Association in April of 2019 with the vision of changing the neighborhood for the better and making sure that Fifth Avenue continues to be a timeless entity.
"For us, it's about creating the avenue experience," Barth said. "It's about improving the visual quality of the elements that you find there for everyday shopping, and then it's also bringing activities and events into this place that will be exceptional and one of a kind – into which you will want to immerse yourself. In turn, it will help you accumulate the memories of this special avenue that will last beyond your visit to make you feel good about being here so you will come back again."
Customers can experience an urban athletic scene in the Adidas store, shop at the Nike store that's designed like a basketball court, meditate in Zen pods in Lululemon, and enter a world of play and imagination at the American Girl Doll store. Other companies such as Apple, and LEGO have made investments in bringing interactive elements to Fifth Avenue as well.
The effort to make sure Fifth Avenue adapts to the changing environment is clear as you stroll it. Stores continue to expand and remodel, while other businesses move in. Brands like Polestar, an offshoot of Volvo that produces electric and hybrid cars, recently chose Fifth Avenue for a sleek, interactive pop-up showroom. Chopard, which sells luxury jewelry that is hard to find elsewhere, and Avra Estiatorio, a top restaurant group, have committed to developing stores on the avenue. Even the iconic Tiffany & Co. plans to redesign its flagship location to reimagine the retail experience while still preserving the historic identity of the original building.
Still, while things begin to undergo alterations, Fifth Avenue maintains its classic roots, as well. Shoppers can still experience the irreplaceable attractions that draws hundreds of thousands of visitors each year such as The Plaza Hotel, St. Patrick's Cathedral, the Cartier Mansion, Rockefeller Center, and the Museum of Modern Art. In doing so, it remains clear that Fifth Avenue offers something that many places cannot, and perfectly balances the new, changing world with the classic institutions that gave Fifth Avenue its iconic reputation in the first place.
"At this moment, what we're concentrating on is telling the story of what all the stores are doing to engage consumers on the avenue, as well as the cultural institutions, the restaurants, and the hotels," said Barth. "We are helping people understand what a rich offering it is, rather than just thinking of, 'Oh, I'm going to come to Fifth Avenue, and I'm going to enter a store and come out.' We explain how you can spend a day on the avenue, and how it's a much more comprehensive experience than just the simple store visits."
Fifth Avenue provides guests with something that others, including online shopping, simply cannot. It proves time and time again that it is more than just a place to shop. It's filled with New York City authenticity and the best of what makes the city a draw. It defies the expectations of regular shopping by offering memories that you can't get elsewhere. Fifth Avenue makes it known that it is unlike any other shopping experience: both classic and cutting edge, balancing the highest quality products with world-class service. Fifth Avenue is a destination that is ever-evolving, yet timeless – a dichotomy that makes it as interesting as New York City itself.