New York City – specifically Manhattan – is known for its tourist attractions, iconic restaurants, flagship stores, and museums worthy of any bucket list. But Manhattan is also an epicenter of business – home to some of the world’s most prominent employers.
Although Manhattan is a relatively small strip of real estate, millions of employees make their way in and around the city every day. An understanding of these potential consumers – their visitation patterns and demographic characteristics – is critical for advertisers, retailers, and restaurateurs who want to reach their ideal audience. We divided Manhattan into five major regions and dove into the location intelligence data for each one to take a closer look at the employees that drive foot traffic in the Big Apple.
For the purpose of this analysis, employees and visitors refer to individuals who work in or visit the specified region but don’t live within its boundaries.
Money Matters in Manhattan
Analysis of the Median HHI of Manhattan's employees illustrates just how important the workforce is to local commerce. Location intelligence from May 2023 revealed that the median household income (HHI) of employees in most regions was significantly higher than both the median HHI of visitors and the nationwide benchmark. So while New York is known for being an expensive travel destination, its employees may have the most spending power in New York.
This suggests that advertisers in Manhattan looking to target specific audiences with ad placements should focus their efforts in order to better target these groups. Retailers and restaurants that want to serve New York’s most affluent clientele may also benefit from venues in or near workplaces and partnerships with major employers.
The one exception to this trend was Upper Manhattan, where both employees and visitors had lower median HHIs than the nationwide benchmark, and where employees had lower median HHIs than visitors. This could be because Upper Manhattan has fewer tourist attractions and major office complexes than the rest of the island – and so the area attracts fewer tourists looking to spend and fewer highly-paid white collar employees.
Taking Care of Business
Analysis of visit metrics for May 2023 further highlighted the difference between employees in Upper Manhattan and those working elsewhere in the city. In most regions of Manhattan, employee foot traffic peaked during normal business hours, with most employees in the vicinity of their workplace between 8:00 a.m. and 6 p.m. This trend was strongest in Midtown – the region with the most office space – making it likely that white-collar workers are driving foot traffic at these times.
In Upper Manhattan, the employee foot traffic peak was less pronounced, likely because the region has fewer offices – given that New York’s largest office buildings are found downtown. Upper Manhattan may also have a larger share of shift workers who work outside of normal business hours, such as employees at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital – one of the nation’s largest hospitals. This could account for the region’s more evenly distributed hourly employee presence.
Uptown and In-Person
Diving deeper into visitation patterns offers further support for the presence of a larger share of shift workers and relatively smaller share of white-collar office workers in Upper Manhattan. Visit frequency data for employees working in the five areas of Manhattan also highlights the persistence of the hybrid work week. In May 2023, employees in Lower and Midtown Manhattan were the least likely to go into their place of work at least 22 times – the particular number of business days in that month. This is consistent with the many office employees in Lower and Midtown Manhattan that no longer work onsite five days a week.
On the other hand, in May 2023, 53.4% of employees in Upper Manhattan were at their place of employment at least 22 times – which suggests that a majority worked in-person five-days a week. So while these employees may not have the biggest budgets, retailers, advertisers, and restaurant operators can look to capitalize on the fact that these consumers are in and around their place of work multiple times a week.
Manhattan’s employee foot traffic is the lifeblood of New York City and a massive potential market. Businesses with a stake in the physical world have countless opportunities to connect with employees in Manhattan, but in order to do so effectively, an in-depth understanding of their behavior and demographics is paramount.
For updates and more data-driven foot traffic insights, visit Placer.ai.