Thanks for Visiting!

Register for free to get the full story.

Sign Up
Already have a account? Log In

Manhattan and Brooklyn’s Pandemic Recovery 

Shira Petrack
July 27, 2022
Manhattan and Brooklyn’s Pandemic Recovery 

Manhattan and Brooklyn’s Pandemic Recovery 

In the early days of the pandemic, amidst the lockdowns, population exodus, and mounting daily COVID cases, many predicted that New York City was finished. But as it turns out, it takes more than a global pandemic to destroy the city that never sleeps. Using foot traffic data, we dove into recent retail, tourism, and migration patterns for Manhattan and Brooklyn to understand how the past two years have impacted these iconic urban hubs. 

Manhattan’s Population Change 

Manhattan was often compared to a ghost town at the start of the pandemic. New Yorkers practiced social distancing and commuters stayed away while embracing the work-from-home lifestyle (WFH). By September 2020, the residential vacancy rate in Manhattan had reached nearly 6% – more than double the typical 2% to 3%. But even as Manhattan was emptying out in 2020, big tech was betting on the city’s long-term health and snapping up millions of square feet of office space. And Manhattan made headlines recently when a report found that the average apartment rent in the borough for June 2022 exceeded $5,000 for the first time ever, indicating that demand for housing in Manhattan has returned with a vengeance. 

Foot traffic data confirms that Manhattan’s residents have returned home. Year-over-year (YoY) monthly population numbers have been consistently elevated, bringing the population in line with pre-pandemic levels – in the first half of 2022, Manhattan’s population was essentially the same as it was in the first half of 2019. And while some Manhattan residents have chosen to leave over the past three years and move to suburban Long Island (Suffolk County) or neighboring boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens, or the Bronx, just as many people have moved into Manhattan from these surrounding counties – indicating that despite the staying power of remote and hybrid work, living in Manhattan still has serious appeal. 

Brooklyn’s Population Change 

While Manhattan’s population has essentially returned to pre-pandemic levels, Brooklyn still has fewer residents than it did in 2019, with the year-over-three-year (Yo3Y) monthly population gap hovering at a little less than 4% for the first half of 2022. And unlike Manhattan that saw monthly YoY population increases between January 2022 and June 2022, Brooklyn’s population continued decreasing (albeit slightly) between 2021 and 2022 – indicating that many of those who left the borough during the first two years of COVID have yet to return. 

Like with Manhattan, most of those leaving Brooklyn remained nearby. Queens was the most popular relocation destination, followed by Manhattan, which means that not everyone left Brooklyn in search of open spaces. Some did move to the suburbs – 4.9% of those who left King’s County between June 2019 and June 2022 moved across the bay to Monmouth County, NJ. But 6.1% of those who moved to Brooklyn arrived from Monmouth County – so more people moved into Brooklyn from Monmouth than moved from Monmouth to Brooklyn. 

Brooklyn Domestic Tourism Recovery Beating Manhattan

Manhattan’s population may be returning faster than Brooklyn’s, but the data indicates that Brooklyn has the upper hand in terms of retail traffic and domestic tourism visits. Using’s COVID-19 Recovery Dashboard, we analyzed differences in retail and domestic foot traffic to Manhattan and Brooklyn between 2019 and 2022. We found that while Manhattan is struggling to maintain its pre-pandemic levels of domestic tourism, Brooklyn has experienced Yo3Y domestic tourism growth every month this year. 

Manhattan’s domestic tourism took a hit in January as Omicron kept would-be travelers home, but visits climbed to 10% Yo3Y growth in February – only to fall again in March as inflation caused many to think twice before booking such an expensive vacation. And although tourism foot traffic recovered slightly in April, visits fell again in May – and fell even further to 14% domestic tourism visit gap in June 2022. Inflation may actually be hurting Manhattan tourism in two ways – first, by leading some potential tourists to forego their vacation altogether, and second, by making it relatively cheap for those Americans who can afford a trip to travel to Europe instead. 

Meanwhile, domestic tourism to Brooklyn skyrocketed between January 2022 and May 2022, with double-digit increases in foot traffic every month relative to the equivalent month in 2019. And while visit growth did slow down in June 2022, domestic tourism was still 5% higher than in June 2019. Brooklyn is a much more affordable destination than Manhattan, which could explain some of the disparity. But the increase in domestic tourism to Brooklyn can also be attributed to former residents who are now regularly returning to their old haunts to shop, eat, or visit friends. 

Brooklyn’s Smaller Yo3Y Retail Visit Gap 

And even though Brooklyn lost a fair number of permanent residents while Manhattan’s population has recovered, Brooklyn is seeing smaller retail visit gaps than Manhattan – in June 2022, retail foot traffic in Manhattan and Brooklyn was 27% and 17% below June 2019 levels, respectively. This could indicate that – at least in popular tourist hubs – domestic tourism is just as important a driver of offline retail as are residents. 

For more foot traffic data-driven insights, visit

Get 3 brand & industry
breakdowns every week

Subscribe to the newsletter

Great! Prepare your inbox for data-driven insights...
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Get a Demo

Please enter your first name
Please enter your last name
Please provide a valid email
Please enter your email
Please enter company name

Thanks for reaching out!

One of our experts will be in touch soon

Try Free
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Digitally Native Brands Lean Into Brick & Mortar
Washington, D.C. Population Changes & Trends
A Location Intelligence Perspective on Macy’s Rightsizing
Amazon-Powered Shopping: The Future of Brick-and-Mortar Grocery?
Cold Weather, Hot Visits: Diving into Winter Resorts
Wawa and 7-Eleven: Leaning Into the “Slurpee Effect”
2022 and Beyond: Catching Up With McDonald’s & Chipotle
Let’s Have Some Fun! Going Out Is In’s Q4 2022 Quarterly Index Adds Industry Executives to Leadership Team To Drive Company's Next Phase of Growth
5 Emerging Retail Formats: 2023’s Brick-and-Mortar Evolution
Grocery Update: Zooming in on the Lone Star State
2022 Office Recap: The Year of the TGIF Work Week
What Lies Ahead for Brick-and-Mortar Luxury in 2023 Mall Indexes: December 2022 Recap
Looking Back on 2022’s Holiday Shopping Season
Post-Pandemic Migration Trends in New York
Top Retailers for 2023
The Live Sports Advertising Opportunity
Domestic Migration to the Mountain States: Small Shifts with Big Implications
New Year, New Food: 5 Dining Trends For 2023
This is Why Shop-in-Shops Are Everywhere
Super Saturday 2022 Recap
The San Francisco Shift
Grocery Year-End Update: Publix in the Spotlight
Three Ways Retailers Can Think Small to Increase Store Impact
Offline Beauty Is on an Upswing
The Evolving Migration Patterns of New York’s Florida Snowbirds Office Index: November 2022 Recap
How Viral Social Media Trends Can Drive Offline Engagement
Are You Ready for Some Football? Experiential Marketing Shows Promise
Mall and Shopping Center Trends For 2023
Retail Corridors and Indoor Malls: A Holiday Head-to-Head
Placer Bytes: Nike, lululemon, and GameStop Update Mall Indexes: November 2022 Update
Black Friday 2022: Consumers Hear the Call
Digitally Native Brands: Taking Off, Offline
Discount and Dollar Stores Leading the Pack
Turkey Wednesday 2022
Retail’s Evolving Holiday Season
Placer Bytes: Starbucks and Department Stores Ahead of Black Friday
Ulta: A Force to be Reckoned With
College Towns Drive Dining Growth
Foot Traffic Trends Reveal Consumers Ready for Holiday Cheer
How Retailers Can Win Big By Going Small
How Are Consumers Feeling Ahead of Black Friday 2022?
Off-Price, Hibbett, and Dick’s Pre-Holiday Check-in
Ho, Ho, Wholesale: Costco, Sam’s Club, and BJ’s
October 2022’s Retail Rebound
Target and Walmart Ahead of the Holidays
Home Improvement: Leave it to the Pros
Despite Inflation, Holiday Season is Off to a Good Start Office Index: October 2022 Recap Mall Indexes- October 2022 Update
Americans Double Down on Fitness
The State of Grocery
CVS and Walgreens: The Wave Continues
Coffee Chains Brewing Up Visits Spotlight: Pizza Players
What Drove COVID-Era Urban Migration Trends?
Kroger and Albertsons: A Merging of Strengths
Texas Roadhouse Innovations Dishing Up Success
Holidays on the Horizon: Mid-Range and Luxury Shopping
McDonald's and Chipotle's Post-Pandemic Success
Announcing’s Q3 2022 Quarterly Index
5 Hot Restaurant Brands for 2023
Target Finds a Winning Deals Day Formula
Five Trends to Watch for 2022’s Holiday Shopping Season
September 2022 Analysis: A Difficult Month and Time for Optimism
Inflation’s Retail Winners
Five Apparel Retailers to Watch Ahead of the Holidays Spotlight: Wawa’s QSR Pivot Mall Indexes: September 2022 Recap Office Indexes: September 2022 Recap
The Impact of Population Growth on Commercial Real Estate 
Starbucks' New Makeover
There's Somethin' About Pumpkin
Expanding Offline Reach
Breakfast Restaurants are Rising in Popularity
The Power of Labor Day 2022
Tourism in Miami Heating Up
Citi Trends on the Rise
Reaching Rural Consumers Through Retail Media Network
Darden Restaurants Cooking Up Success
The Home Improvement Sector: A Sign of Consumer Confidence
QSR Is Having a Northeastern Growth Spurt
Domestic Migration’s Ripple Effects
A Look Back at Back To School 2022
Kroger Digital Tell-All
The Return of In-Person Networking
The Reinvention of the American Mall Office Building Indexes: August 2022 Recap Mall Indexes - August 2022 Recap
Five Below’s Back to School Success
Plus-Size Fashion’s Staying Power
Placer Bytes: Best Buy & GameStop 
Petco Barking Up the Right Tree
Lipstick Effect Boosts Ulta’s Growth 
Placer Bytes: DICK's Sporting Goods and Hibbett Sports