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Who’s Playing the Retail Lending Game (and Who’s on the Bench)

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Stories about the retail downturn are everywhere. More than 3,000 stores have declared bankruptcy in 2017, and the year isn’t even half over. There’s a similar downturn in retail lending: In New York City, retail lending decreased more than 30% from 2015 to 2016, excluding retail condos and mixed-use properties.

While this may seem to show a decisive, market-wide shift away from retail financing, the picture is more complex than it first appears.

Several lenders have decreased their overall retail lending in New York City. Retail origination by Bank of America dropped 89% in the Big Apple, year over year, to $125 million in 2016. Goldman Sachs issued $115 million in NYC retail lending in 2016, down 80% from the previous year.

Among foreign lenders, Bank of China’s year-over-year retail lending in NYC dropped 96%, to $15 million in 2016. U.S. Bank issued $582 million in retail lending in 2015, almost all of which went to a loan on the 1.1 million-square-foot Manhattan Mall. However, in 2016 U.S. Bank’s NYC retail lending was negligible. Neither Metlife nor Credit Agricole did any retail lending in NYC in 2016.

Now that you know who’s sitting out this inning of the retail lending game, let’s take a look at who has picked up the slack. JPMorgan increased its retail lending 54%, to $427 million, and Natixis increased its lending to $130 million, a jump of 211% from 2015 to 2016. United Overseas Bank financed $290 million in retail loans in New York City in 2016, 143% more than in 2015, though its NYC commercial real estate lending dropped overall.

Stay tuned to see what 2017 holds for retail lending — but the wave of bankruptcies we’ve seen so far this year may not herald good news.

(The data in this article come from a CrediFi analysis of $180 billion in 2015 and 2016 commercial real estate financing, with retail loans indicating loans containing at least one retail property. Properties designated as mixed-use were not included as retail loans, and data on commercial condos is limited.)

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David Libman, a fintech and investment professional with 20 years’ experience in fields including finance, technology, new business development and real estate investments, is head of product at CrediFi. Previously, David was a vice president at New York-based iCapital Network, a financial technology platform for alternative investments, and director of acquisitions at Fieldstone Properties, a private real estate investment firm focused on investment-grade multifamily property. David is also the founder and former CEO of Globerex, the first real estate equity online marketplace.  

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Alex Veksler has 16 years of finance, data analysis and project management experience. He is a former vice president at Morgan Stanley, where he worked on product control of equity and fixed-income derivatives products as well as various projects involving finance and technology, such as revamping risk attribution and balance-sheet systems for profits and losses. Alex has previously worked at hedge funds, most recently as a director at Exigent Capital. He has a bachelor’s in computer science from Yeshiva University and an MBA from New York University.

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