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City: Strike cost $1B

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The three-day transit strike cost the city $1 billion, as employees didn't show up to the office or worked shortened days, and tourists didn't shop or spend as much, according to the city comptroller's office.

With a busy holiday weekend ahead and lots of pent-up demand, those losses might be offset a bit by extra activity in the next few days, sources at the comptroller's office added. But for restauranteurs, florists and other small businesses, even a short strike did significant damage.

"It's three days you don't get back," said Kathryn S. Wylde, the president and chief executive of the Partnership for New York City.

The city's florist industry, for instance, said business was off by 80 percent, Wylde said. Theaters lost 20 percent of their business, she added.

"The hospitality industry was particularly hard hit during the transit strike," added Cristyne L. Nicholas, the president and chief executive of NYC & Company, the city's tourism agency.

In a study by the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce released Thursday, more than a third of city business owners surveyed said the strike would either extremely or moderately hurt their company's year-end bottom line.

The bulk of the city's financial losses came in productivity, as area workers in some cases spent more than three hours just commuting to the office and delivery trucks could barely make it into midtown.

"It certainly disrupted economic life in New York City; there's no doubt about that," said James Parrott, chief economist with the left-leaning Fiscal Policy Institute in Manhattan. "But on the business side, I think a lot of it will be made up eventually, some of it right away and some of it more spread out."

Experts said the city now should move forward easily.

"If it's just a three-day strike, we'll bounce back fairly quickly," said Rae Rosen, the senior regional economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Retailers, meanwhile, expressed relief.

"We're obviously glad the transit workers are going back to work and that the transit system will be back to normal soon," said Jim Sluzewski, a spokesman for Federated Department Stores, which owns Macy's, Bloomingdale's and Lord & Taylor. "We're looking forward to welcoming customers into stores as they finish their holiday shopping."

But even as some Manhattan retailers saw sales declines, businesses in the outer boroughs and the suburbs may have benefited during the strike. Many commuters forced to stay home from work simply shopped in their own neighborhoods.

For instance, Queens Center reported a double-digit increase in traffic on Tuesday, the first day of the strike.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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