VISITORS IN UNION SQUARE AND DOWNTOWN AREAS INCREASING THIS HOLIDAY SEASON
Friday, December 15, 2023
Contact: Mayor’s Press Office, mayorspressoff
VISITORS IN UNION SQUARE AND DOWNTOWN AREAS INCREASING THIS HOLIDAY SEASON
Demand for holiday experiences and events, restaurants, and shopping in the Union Square and Downtown areas continue to yield positive results, indicating a stronger holiday season than years past
San Francisco, CA – As the holiday shopping season enters its final week, Union Square is seeing an increase in visitors compared to previous years and safety patrols are continuing to contribute to lower incidents of crime.
San Francisco continues to see an increase in foot traffic, public transportation ridership, hotel and restaurant reservations, and event attendance. Last month, the Mayor and City leaders kicked off the holiday season to encourage residents and visitors to explore San Francisco’s vibrant offerings including shopping, dining, and experiences.
On Friday the latest Union Square holiday activity will launch, with the opening of Winter Walk on Stockton Street, a pedestrian plaza that creates a space for food, drinks, and entertainment.
“We are seeing more people come to Union Square than we have in recent years, whether they are coming on Muni or driving and using our parking garages,” said Mayor London Breed. “With only a little over a week left in the holiday shopping season, we are inviting everyone down to Union Square – not just for the shopping but for the holiday experiences that create lasting memories. Our work around public safety is continuing to make this a safer holiday season than we’ve seen in a long time, and we want everyone to join in experiencing what San Francisco has to offer.”
Transit Ridership Up
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) and the Union Square Alliance have reported an increase in transit activity in both the Downtown and Union Square areas relative to the same time last year, as well as parking garages in the area:
- A 64% increase in passengers departing Muni Metro at both Downtown and Union Square/Powell Muni Metro stations on weekdays during November compared to the same time last year.
- A 43% increase in passengers departing those same stations on weekends during November compared to the same time last year.
- Union Square reported parking garages were at capacity over the Black Friday weekend and continue to be well-used.
Public Safety Patrols Keep Area Safe
San Francisco’s Safe Shopper Initiative is in full operation with police officers patrolling Union Square, as well as extra patrols in parking garages by SFPD, Park Rangers, and other security personnel. More SFPD Community Ambassadors have been deployed to Union Square as well.
Larceny theft, car break-ins, car theft, and burglaries remain down during the holiday shopping season Citywide, including in Union Square.
Businesses and Neighborhoods Benefitting from Increased Visitors
As the City works to build on the Mayor’s Roadmap to San Francisco’s Future, Mayor Breed continues to prioritize key investments to incentivize economic growth. Currently, hotel and restaurant bookings remain strong in Union Square – with businesses both new and old benefitting from increasing number of visitors. Examples include:
- The Westin St. Francis reported 100% occupancy for this last weekend (December 9-10), and for this next weekend (December 16-17).
- Miller & Lux Provisions have reported the two new restaurants in Union Square Plaza continue to sell out of pastries daily.
- The renowned Chotto Matte Japanese Peruvian fusion restaurant, which opened in Union Square in October, has remained strong with approximately 10,000 reservations already booked.
Holiday Activations Expanding
San Francisco offers a range of holiday activations as part of the work being done to reinvigorate key tourist areas such as Downtown and Union Square to support businesses and hotels in the area.
Just this week:
- Winter Walk 2023: Union Square’s signature holiday event that offers three blocks of holiday food and beverages, shopping, performances, and activities, opens this Friday, December 15 and will run through Christmas Eve. This year’s event will be the largest since the event began in 2015.
- Beginning this Saturday, Dec. 16, a 150-year-old cable car will be stationed at Powell Plaza every Tuesday and Saturday from 7 a.m.-7 p.m., weather permitting. Visitors and residents can climb aboard history, take photos
,and explore this mobile museum up close.
- Mayor Breed joined the Jewish community to light the Bill Graham Menorah in Union Square, which will be lit through the final night of Hanukkah on Friday night.
- Union Square’s Safeway Ice Rink: Last week, the crowd favorite Drag Queens on Ice sold out and upcoming performances continue to sell out, indicating a strong return to Union Square’s holiday offerings.
Outside of Union Square, there are other holiday activities, including:
- Circus Bella’s “Kaleidoscope“: This newperformance will take place at The Crossing at the East Cut beginning December 15 through December 31.
- San Francisco Ballet’s Nutcracker: Back again this year, experience the magical winter wonderland of toy soldiers, King of the Mice, Sugar Plum Fairy, and so much more.
Over the last year, Mayor Breed has met with community members, small business owners, and other stakeholders to highlight supporting retailers locally as a critical component to the City’s economic recovery. Small businesses account for approximately 95% of all businesses in San Francisco and employ nearly one million Bay Area residents.
Shopping Local This Holiday Season
- Kultivate Labs presents “Republika Holiday Pop up Market”: Shop Filipino brands curated to support Filipino entrepreneurs this holiday season now through Tuesday, December 26th at the Metreon.
- Support black-owned SF Businesses: Visit In the Black marketplace in the Fillmore or shop online and support black-owned businesses.
- Visit San Francisco’s Historic Chinatown: The largest Chinatown in the United States, find holiday gifts and enjoy world-class cuisine.
- Explore San Francisco’s Union Square: Residents and visitors are encouraged to come shop, dine and experience in person.
- ShopDineSF: has over two dozen neighborhood guides for “Perfect San Francisco Days.” Visit your own neighborhood shops, restaurants, and bars, or explore a part of San Francisco you’re less familiar with.
- Purchase San Francisco-made productsas holiday gifts: From specialty food to jewelry and customizable items, San Francisco makers are creating a range of beautiful and unique items.
- Pop over to a Pop-up:Vacant to Vibrant, an innovative program to activate Downtown, features 17 local activators including small businesses in the culinary, arts, and retail sectors.
“The holidays are upon us, and that creates the perfect opportunity to invest in our local San Francisco businesses,” said Sarah Dennis Phillips, Executive Director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development. “I encourage you to experience all the joy and magic our beautiful City has to offer this holiday season and help us continue to build upon this momentum by dining at our world-class restaurants, taking in a show, and most importantly shopping at our local retailers.”
“We are thrilled to see tourists and San Franciscans alike take Muni to partake in the festivities near Union Square this holiday season,” said Jeffrey Tumlin, SFMTA Director of Transportation. “Public transit is the most economical and dependable way to reach the City’s iconic holiday destinations.”
“Union Square sparkles with holiday magic as it dons its festive attire, welcoming a vibrant tapestry of both familiar and new traditions,” said Marisa Rodriguez, Chief Executive Officer, Union Square Alliance “Among the timeless allure of Macy’s SFSPCA windows, a decorated John’s Grill, Gump’s holiday shop, the modern charm of the Pop! Lounge at the Westin St. Francis, ‘Miracle at PCH,’ and the return of Winter Walk, stands Jeffrey’s Toys—the oldest toy store in San Francisco. Union Square invites visitors and locals alike to embrace the spirit of the season and support our local businesses.”