Oakland merchants say sales slump by half amid Occupy protests
The Mercury News with a good follow up to SFZ’s page yesterday.
Holiday sales represent a bubble of profitability that most small merchants need every single year just to stay in business. Take that away and you could see a lot of vacant store fronts as a result.
Oakland business leaders called on the city Tuesday to move forcefully against Occupy Oakland — and disband the encampment — citing huge drops in sales for some retailers and fears about the city’s reputation.
Mayor Jean Quan conceded that the movement has imperiled jobs. She called on Occupy Oakland to begin a dialogue to resolve the demonstrations peacefully.
Occupy representatives insisted they had no intention of harming merchants in downtown Oakland, saying the small retailers are members of the 99 percent.
But business officials pushed for immediate action. “The encampment needs to go away,” said Deborah Boyer, president of the Lake Merritt/Uptown Community Benefit District. “It’s become dangerous.”
Numerous downtown retailers said the Occupy protests have slashed sales in half, and business leaders warned that Occupy and the city’s response has spooked some tenant prospects.
“People don’t want to come downtown,” said Nohemi Duran, an employee with Juice Joint Eatery, located a few hundred feet from Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, the site of the Occupy encampment.
“Business is slow,” added Mark Amarri, manager of The Plaza Cafe. “Things were good before the protests began. Now it’s going to be hard to pay the rent.”
The effects of Occupy Oakland have rippled beyond the city plaza, said Paul Junge, public policy director of the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.
“We are seeing serious losses of
business,” Junge said. “People have lost 40 percent, 50 percent, 60 percent of their sales.”
While Occupy is leaderless in theory, everyone involved should consider taking a break through the holidays and coming back in Spring with fresh campaigns before the positive image they’ve established inverts.