Transit Strike Brings Store Traffic to a Halt

Discussion
Dec 22, 2005
George Anderson

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

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

Join the Discussion!

7 Comments on "Transit Strike Brings Store Traffic to a Halt"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Nelson Lichtenstein
Guest
Nelson Lichtenstein
15 years 2 months ago

If one of your commentators wants to stand by his effort to define a strike, such as that by the New York Transit Workers, as a variant of “terrorism,” then he should think about moving to a country, like contemporary China or Saudi Arabia, where the government does in fact define such collective withdrawals of work as illegal and subversive. I for one support the transit workers in their just struggle.

Nelson Lichtenstein, Center for Work, Labor and Democracy, UC Santa Barbara

Mark Lilien
Guest
15 years 2 months ago

The best thing any retailer can do is coach the staff on how to get to work. The MTA buses and subways are shut, but the Long Island Railroad, various ferries, NJ buses and trains, and other forms of transit (licensed and unlicensed) are still available. Managers can do the coaching individually by phone. Some people have trouble thinking out of the box and may not realize what all the alternatives are. It may also pay to extend the hours of operation, since most customers’ commutes are now spread over more hours. If the retailer has a mailing list, they should use it ASAP. And they need to put together several business plans, based on alternate strike-ending dates (what to do if the strike lasts 24 hours more, a week more, 2 weeks more, etc.)

Al McClain
Guest
Al McClain
15 years 2 months ago

This strike has been bad news all the way around – for commuters, businesses, and even for transit workers. I can’t see how this works in anyone’s favor, as the union is being fined $1MM per day, and their leaders may be in jail soon if they keep it up. Retailers in the suburbs and online are picking up some of the business lost in the city, but not enough to make up for the damage.

Greg Coghill
Guest
Greg Coghill
15 years 2 months ago

I do not have much of a short term solution for retailers, but I think education could (maybe) help to ward off a future occurence of a strike at such a critical time. The sales tax that the city is losing because of the strike is outrageous. This is the money that pays for area schools, law enforcement, public utilities, etc, which already lack funds. I understand that the transit employees want to make their point when it counts (with financial threats), but if they were aware of the big picture, they might pick a better time to strike, at a time when it wasn’t counterproductive to their overall situation.

Mark Burr
Guest
15 years 2 months ago
I can’t think of a better time to remember the actions of Ronald Reagan with the air traffic controllers. They too felt they couldn’t be replaced if they went out on an illegal strike. This is no different to me than an act of terrorism and should be treated as such. There are millions in the nation that are in desperate need of a job. These could be filled in short order. I can think of a great source of an employment pool coming from the New Orleans areas. Many there stated that they would never return. There really is little that retailers of any type can do. They are at the mercy of the infrastructure that exists. It does, however, prove how vulnerable we are. Yet, on the other hand, it shows once again the resilience of the great city of New York. Yet it’s hard to imagine that this sort of thing would have taken place under Rudy. Or, if it did, the actions and consequences might have been much different and much… Read more »
Mike Romano
Guest
Mike Romano
15 years 2 months ago

Many of my staff are scheduled to attend the NRF show in NY the week of the 14th. It’s not a MUST attend event, so chances are we will cancel the trip for 5 people. It’s just not worth the trouble of no trains and waiting hours for a taxi in 10 degree weather. That means less revenue for the city in terms of 5 rooms @ 5 nights and 15 meals per day. Lots of lost revenue. I can imagine we’re not alone.

M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
15 years 2 months ago
According to late-breaking news, New York transit workers may have things back up and running within a day or two while talks resume. Good news for all involved. Retailers shouldn’t have to prepare for events of this type. Illegal strikes must be dealt with immediately with decisiveness and courage, and strikes of this type which negatively affect so many people should be illegal if they aren’t already. This strike breaks state law, for which the union is being fined $1 million per day, and the strike leaders may even be jailed (again, late-breaking news may obviate this due to the possibility of a settlement). The 9/11 attack on New York should have hyper-sensitized its residents to other far-reaching acts of aggression toward the city, such as this strike. Terrorism is defined as “the unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments.” When considering this definition, strike defenders will gravitate to the word “force.”… Read more »
wpDiscuz

Take Our Instant Poll

What is the most important step retailers in NYC should be taking during the transit strike?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...