NEW YORK — The terror threat against New York City’s subway system disrupted business in a few stores over the weekend but had little widespread impact.
Federal and local officials went public on Thursday with news of a plot to detonate bombs in the city’s subways. While federal officials were initially doubtful of the credibility of the information, both Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said security will be racheted up in the subway system indefinitely.
At Zale’s on West 34th Street, Illiana Carrera, assistant manager, said Sunday that employees were more concerned than customers. “We were talking about it,” she said. “We are just trying to be cautious. We’re looking at every package that comes into the store. Today I had a ride to work. I was relieved that I didn’t have to take the train. I’m just trying to be alert.”
Carrera said business on Saturday was very slow, but she attributed it to the rainy weather.
Stan Rossel, vintage manager at Tourneau on West 34th Street, said he hasn’t seen any impact. “It’s really tough to tell,” he said. “We have days when we’re up and days when we’re down. We haven’t had any day out of the ordinary. We have a lot of tourists coming in and nobody’s even talked about it.”
That wasn’t the case at Charlotte Russe at the Manhattan Mall on Sixth Avenue between 32nd and 33rd Streets. “Our business definitely was hindered due to the terror threat,” said Jennifer Coccarelli, manager. “We could have done a lot better based on the business the week before. A lot of people on line to pay were trying to get to work or home faster than usual. They didn’t want to travel during certain times of the day. They didn’t want to use mass transit.”
A subway station beneath the mall where the A, B, C, D, F, 1, 2 and 3 trains converge, had a large police presence on Friday, which Coccarelli said was reassuring.
Lisa Rosenthal, associate director of the 34th Street Partnership, tried to put a positive spin on the events. “New Yorkers are resilient and are trying to go about leading their normal lives.”
Foot traffic around the major department stores in the city seemed to be at normal levels over the weekend.
The manager of the Gap in Times Square felt an impact on Friday. “To be honest, it wasn’t a happy day — that’s really what the environment felt like,” she said.
The store manager at Quiksilver in Times Square said, “I haven’t really noticed any affect here because we’re so busy. Considering there’s been a Fox News tent outside of our store every day, I think [the tourists] are actually pretty jazzed that they get to watch somebody on TV. And being in Times Square, there’s cops out here every day anyway so it’s really no big deal. I mean, I think [the customers] are probably concerned but they have to live, you know?”
Business was off at several stores at the Shops at Columbus Center, which is served by a major subway station right outside its door.
“We noticed that traffic was down in the store on Friday,” said Michelle Ewell, a J. Crew staffer. “People were talking about the subway and how they’re more afraid to take the subway. You definitely noticed that the traffic was a lot lower. We get a lot of people coming down from the Upper West Side on the subway. Business picked up on Saturday. We tend to get a lot of traffic when it’s raining out.”
Angie Vargas, a supervisor at Crabtree & Evelyn, said, “We had a lot of police — about eight or 10 cops — outside the subway station. Maybe that scared people off. I noticed that the trains weren’t as packed as they usually are. The subway cars were empty. I myself was really nervous. I guess there is an impact.”
Hugo Boss, on the other hand, saw sales increase. “We’ve seen a pretty good increase on the weekend,” said a salesman. “I don’t attribute it to the terror threats.”