BART ridership down on Black Friday

BART ridership to San Francisco's Union Square shopping district was down nearly 18 percent on Black Friday. Nearly 49,000 riders took the train to Union Square last year, as compared with only about 40,000 this year -- the lowest number in four years.

December 2, 2009 6:57:21 PM PST
BART ridership to San Francisco's Union Square shopping district was down nearly 18 percent on Black Friday. Nearly 49,000 riders took the train to Union Square last year, as compared with only about 40,000 this year -- the lowest number in four years.

BART doesn't rely on Black Friday to get in the black like retailers, but there is more at stake than fares alone.

"Think about it this way, when people aren't spending money it hurts us two ways: one, obviously is the ridership revenue that we receive. And two is the sales tax they would spend here, we don't get that either so it's a double-whammy," said BART spokesman Linton Johnson.

And it's not as if the shoppers came in cars instead.

The Union Square Merchant's Association says parking was down 10 percent at the Sutter-Stockton and Union Square garages.

Retailers aren't revealing sales results, but when the association asked merchants if they agreed with the prediction that this year's sales would be down one percent from a year ago and 55 percent agreed.

Gumps CEO Marta Benson was in the 45 percent who disagreed.

"We were really pleased with Black Friday and the whole weekend," she said.

Benson says nothing is on sale, but they have offered more merchandise in the lower price ranges, and it seems to be working.

"Even though consumers have been very cautious and frankly, freaked out by the recessionary environment, the opportunity to come to Gumps and buy a small ornament or a beautiful wrapped gift for under $50," said Benson.

Shreve and Company Jewelers also saw an improvement over last year.

"I don't know whether it is hope or observation, but I see a lot more people are coming back into Union Square to shop," said Shreve and Co. president Richard Horne.

There are 22 shopping days until Christmas for him to gather evidence and sales receipts.


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