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&MOver the last year, SARS, the war in Iraq and the fragile global economy took a toll on international retailers. Yet the most expensive and sought-after streets in the world held their own in terms of rent and attracted a bevy of upscale brands. Several luxury firms expanded their presence in Japan, opening stores in the Ginza and Aoyama districts. Asia continues to be a growth market for many firms, with Kangnam Station, Orchard Road and the Ginza landing within the top 15 on the list.

This story first appeared in the November 6, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

1) Fifth Avenue, New York
Rent/square foot: $850

When the big boys want to play in Manhattan, they locate to Fifth Avenue, where properties such as Trump Tower fetch top dollar. The area north of 49th Street and south of 60th Street is the most prestigious with high-end brands such as Ferragamo, Escada and Gucci; however, recent deals like Zara’s lease at 689 Fifth Avenue illustrate that moderately priced retailers want a piece of the tourist action.

2) Avenue des Champs Elysées, Paris
Rent/square foot: $671

On the southern blocks of the Champs Elysées, mainstream retailers such as the Gap, Disney Store, Zara, Quiksilver, Naf Naf and a supermarket called Monoprix are clustered. Further north, the air is more rarified and so is the shopping, with Louis Vuitton, Lancel, Cartier and Montblanc. Some bemoan the changes to Champs Elysées such as the McDonald’s now found on the street.

3) Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Rent/square foot: $500

When Hong Kong was hit with SARS, tourism dropped and local consumers slowed their spending, which took a toll on retail sales. By April, traffic on Causeway Bay rebounded, with a range of promotions designed to attract shoppers, such as free parking for three hours. Stores include Bally, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Salvatore Ferragamo, Hermès, Christian Dior, Anya Hindmarch and Esprit. Despite economic setbacks, the area has maintained its rent values.

4) Oxford Street, London
Rent/square foot: $470

Yes, Oxford Street is polluted and clogged with traffic, but that hasn’t impacted its popularity. Selfridges is the main attraction for designer fashion. Other venerable British stores include Marks & Spencer and Debenhams. For fast fashion, H, Next and French Connection all have outposts. There’s even Nike Town and Starbucks for homesick Americans.

5) Pitt Street Mall, Sydney
Rent/square foot: $310

Spaces on the strip, which stretches between Market and King streets, rarely becomes available, which keeps rents high. Unlike the city’s upscale Castlereagh Street fashion strip, Pitt Street Mall is home to a more mainstream collection of stores such as Liz Claiborne and the Grace Brothers department store. The foot traffic — about 500,000 people a week — qualifies the mall as one of the busiest retail strips in the world.

6) Kangnam Station, Seoul
Rent/square foot: $282

The popular Kangnam district is packed with young people day and night. Cafes, restaurants, clubs, music stores and movie theaters flank the wide tree-lined street near Kangnam Station. COEX, an underground mall that is believed to be one of the largest in Asia, is located here.

7) Ermou Street, Athens
Rent/square foot: $282

Ermou Street is shopping heaven. Its lower end hosts a boisterous Sunday flea market and interesting antique stores. There are European shops and department stores such as Marks & Spencer, Zara, Replay, Benetton and Plus Soda, a store selling progressive and tribal wear.

8) Manezhnaya Square, Moscow
Rent/square foot: $279

Incomes have recovered following the August 1998 currency devaluation crisis, which wiped out savings. Russians have rediscovered their penchant for shopping. The city’s more popular place to spend money is the massive underground shopping mall in Manezhnaya Ploshchad’ adjacent to the Kremlin and the Okhotny Ryad shopping complex, where brands like Diesel, Gianfranco Ferré, Benetton and Guess can be found.

9) Kaufingerstraße, Munich
Rent/square foot: $275

Part of the city’s central shopping area, this pedestrian-only street boasts large department stores where shoppers can find clothing and accessories by designers like Ralph Lauren and Giorgio Armani. But it is the lederhosen and Bavarian-style leather shoes from Dirndl-Ecke that make this Old World strip famous.

10) Grafton Street, Dublin
Rent/square foot: $246

Grafton Street lies between Trinity College to the north and St. Stephen’s Green to the south. This premiere shopping area of Dublin is home to Brown Thomas, which sells labels such as Calvin Klein and Giorgio Armani. Across the street, BT2, a smaller, newer sibling, carries trendier designs. Marks & Spencer and Weirs, an exclusive jeweler, are also located on Grafton Street, as is the most popular of the famous Bewely’s Cafes.

11) Via Montenapoleone, Milan
Rent/square foot: $208

The Italian designers are out in force on the fashionable Via Montenapoleone, with Gucci, Ferragamo, Versace, Prada, Valentino, Armani and Dolce & Gabbana, to name a few. Ralph Lauren found a 16,000-square-foot space on the street for a store scheduled to open next year. The venerable Cafe Cova attracts weary shoppers for a cup of espresso and a slice of cake.

12) Bahnhofstrasse, Zurich
Rent/square foot: $206

Bahnhofstrasse is the most fashionable street in Zurich with Jemoli, the largest and oldest department store in the city, watch retailer Güebelin and Globus, Zurich’s other major department store. The street is also home to the largest Bally flagship in the world. Lake Zurich lies at the end of the picturesque Bahnhofstrasse.

13) Kärntnerstraße, Vienna
Rent/square foot: $205

One of the best-known shopping streets in Vienna, the Kärntnerstraße begins behind the State Opera and ends near St. Stephans Cathedral. Posh boutiques line the pedestrian-only thoroughfare, which is one of the longest in all of Europe.

14) Orchard Road, Singapore
Rent/square foot: $199

Singapore’s Orchard Road attracts throngs for its shopping malls, international hotels and nightspots. The recently opened Paragon mall has attracted luxury brands such as Valentino, Versace and Versus. Other stores will include Prada, Burberry, Tod’s and Inez. The six-level Paragon began its $45 million renovation in March and is expected to give a lift to the Orchard Road retail scene.

15) The Ginza, Tokyo
Rent/square foot: $197

The Ginza remains popular with the luxury crowd. Cartier opened an 11,090-square-foot store in July and the Bulgari shop is said to be one of the most successful in the chain. The area boasts Louis Vuitton and Burberry. Chanel is planning to open a four-story boutique next year, and Gucci and Christian Dior have also secured sites. But Ginza is getting competition from the Aoyama district, where Prada opened a 28,000-square-foot flagship in June.

SOURCE: Cushman & Wakefield Healey & Baker, Main Streets Across the World 2003 Report * INDICATES A TIE

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