NEW YORK — Times Square retailers and other merchants returned to relative normality Sunday after thousands of demonstrators converged on the area the day before.
Retailers said Sunday that the demonstrators disrupted their operations on Saturday given their sheer number. The Times Square demonstration was said to be the largest by the Occupy Wall Street Movement, however, participants reportedly came from around the country and were not part of the group that’s been camped out in the Financial District’s Zuccotti Park since Sept. 17.
They arrived in Times Square in the late afternoon when it was packed with tourists and theatergoers. “There’s no doubt that there was a significant drop in overall traffic,” said Ryan Boswell, a store manager at Billabong at 1515 Broadway. “The morning was all right, but once the police barricades started going up and once the crowds started to move in at around 4:30, we had only a small tiny handful of people.”
Boswell said, “The sidewalks were so crowded and packed around 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. that even people who work in Times Square had a hard time getting through the crowds. The chunk of visitors and vacationers that didn’t care about the protest were pushed into this protest and they had it going on for hours. The city was crowded more than usual. It sounded like you were at a football game. There were hundreds and hundreds of people protesting.”
Boswell estimated that Billabong’s traffic dropped 35 percent to 40 percent on Saturday evening. “Hopefully, they won’t come back to Times Square. We definitely don’t need to take a hit like that again.”
According to a spokesman for the New York Police Department, 92 people were arrested across the city on Saturday in connection with the demonstrations. In the Times Square area, the spokesman said, demonstrators “dispersed or were arrested.”
Brian Menendez, a manager at Quiksilver, on the corner of 47th Street and Seventh Avenue, said, “A lot of people were definitely talking about [the protest] afterwards. I didn’t see a big impact. For the most part, it was a normal Saturday.”
Scott Birnbaum, senior vice president of marketing, said on Sunday, “There are a lot of protests in Times Square. Everything is back to normal today. I don’t think it was that much of an issue.”
In the meantime, for Uniqlo shoppers at the Fifth Avenue and 53rd Street flagship that bowed Friday, the protest was the farthest thing from their minds. They were only interested in bargains and the promotional items, such as women’s cashmere sweaters for $49.90, for the store’s opening. Mary Lawton, a spokeswoman for Uniqlo, said, “Promotional items have been doing very well. The $9.90 jeans were very popular. They weren’t available in our SoHo store.” The low-priced jeans will also be sold at Uniqlo’s 34th Street store, opening on Friday.
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