Transit Strike Brings Store Traffic to a Halt
By George Anderson
According to most reports, retail sales had not been particularly strong in New York City before the transit union went out on strike this week. The last thing retailers in the Big Apple needed was for the union to bring much of the city to a halt right before Christmas.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said restaurants in the city had seen a 40 percent drop in business while retailers on Fifth Ave. said crowds were half of what they normally see at this time of year. Brooklyn’s Fulton Mall reported a 90 percent drop in customer traffic.
Despite the sizeable odds against them, many retailers in New York seem unwilling to give up on the season this close to Christmas. As one said on local radio, retailers got past 9/11 and they will survive this too.
A report in the New York Daily News said retailers have cut prices, adjusted store hours and offered incentives to workers to keep business running as close to normal as can be expected under the current conditions.
Banana Republic and American Girl Place are paying workers to get to stores. According to the Daily News, Banana Republic doubled its travel reimbursement from $15 to $30. American Girl Place located in Times Square has offered to pay workers $50 a day to help them get to work.
Howard Davidowitz, chairman of Davidowitz & Associates, said the larger businesses will be hurt by the strike but have the resources to overcome it. The same cannot be said for many Mom and Pop stores.
“You see the guy out on the street selling coffee, donuts, fruit – his business is destroyed,” he said. “There are a lot of small businesses that will close or that won’t be able to pay their bills next year because of the strike.”
Moderator’s Comment: What can retailers do to prepare and survive events such as the NYC transit strike? Are you aware of other ways retailers in NYC
are coping with the strike?
Personally, we’d love to see a sign in a store window that says, “Prices 20% Higher for Transit Workers – 100% Higher for Roger Toussaint!” –
George Anderson – Moderator