"WTO Brings Heavy Blow and Retail Woe to Downtown SeattleCity’s Downtown Retail Core Suffers, Caught in the Midst of Police and Protestors"

“By Steve Brown, Staff ReporterWith holiday wreaths hanging over boarded up windows and tear gas drifting among branches of trees lit up with festive lights, downtown Seattle continued to resemble a surreal urban war zone as anti-WTO protests – and police retaliation – continued.Whether one is for or against World Trade Organization policies and politics, protestors or police, one thing is clear. Immediate losers this week are the merchants of downtown Seattle who are paying the price for the excesses of all sides.As of yesterday, estimated lost sales for downtown Seattle merchants due to WTO-related problems, was set at $7 million. The figure was expected to grow by about $2.5 million more a day for the rest of this week.Costs to repair physical damages were also high. Blocks of businesses were boarded up with plywood and closed on Wednesday. Estimates ranged between $1.5 and $2 million to replace broken windows, clean graffiti, repair fixtures, signs and decorations, as well as to cover merchandise looted on Tuesday night.The Downtown Seattle Association estimated merchants spent up to $200,000 boarding up storefronts and providing security in the aftermath of Tuesday’s destruction, according to the Seattle Chamber of Commerce. Storeowners covered by insurance still may face paying for damages that may not rise above high deductibles, the Chamber said.The DSA is planning a “take back our city” pre-Christmas celebration to re-start the holiday season in downtown Seattle. It will begin this weekend, after the close of the WTO conference.”