Many local businesses near colleges and schools have seen increased sales with the return of in-person classes.
“We’ve certainly seen more traffic because people are here and they need to eat,” said Tracy Green, vice president of strategic and institutional development at LCCC.
Green went on to say both Marketplace and Starbucks are here primarily to serve our campus community, so students, faculty, and staff recall the customers for both those, and they have been able to ramp up on services.
“We’re seeing a bit of more normalcy,” said Green. “I think because those areas are designed in their service and their size to meet the on campus population that we’ve seen certainly greater traffic than what we’ve seen last year within those facilities. Both Starbucks and Marketplace have adjusted their hours as well as their offerings to meet where that demand is at. That’s one of the reasons why Subway reopened this fall, is because of the increased number of students that are here for in-person classes.”
Though there is no clear- cut data that shows how much of an increase in sales of the facilities on campus have, Green assures there is definitely an increase compared to last year.
“The percentage of in-person classes are close to about 70 percent,” said Green. “Students choose both types of mode of delivery, some are taking online and in-person. Though the traffic has increased, we also recognize that online learning is here to stay. We’ll still certainly serve the food needs of students as well as those caffeine needs of students.”
Green adds they are also making sure that the campus offers the classes that best serve the students, and that Marketplace and Starbucks have really added resources to support students.
“No student goes hungry”
“This goes without commitment to ensure that no student goes hungry or goes without technology, so our Marketplace has been very involved during this time, of working with the Commodore Cupboard to flash freeze food that would go into the bookstore, as well as the operational support,” said Green. “It’s one big family umbrella of really trying to meet the student’s needs.”
According to Green, 70 percent of courses are offered in-person. 61 percent of students are enrolled in at least one online course, ensuring online courses are not going anywhere.
“Our promise is no student goes without technology, and so being able to have that resource of the bookstore that has the technology, has the Apple store there, was one key way during the pandemic that we could ensure that we upheld that promise,” assured Green.
“We’ve been seeing about the same thing,” said Manager of the Commodore Bookstore, Patty Clark, who has been managing for ten years. “We’ve tried, along with the staff and the students and faculty, trying to bring in some of the public with our partnership program, with our partnership apparel, so we’ve been seeing more people coming into the store, some from outside, saying ‘I’m looking for this type of sweatshirt or that’ and of course textbooks and other needs.”
“We’re seeing more of our gift sales and our clothing sales go up,” said Clark. “Along with the technology, we have a technology service center and we help students with any of their classwork needs, such as access codes or if they are having trouble accessing or anything like that, we are here to serve them,” said Clark. “We’ve seen more in store traffic with that.”
Clark said they adjusted well despite the pandemic a year ago. They offered curbside pickup as an option for students to receive their books and other needs, and Clark commented on an increase in online sales through their website. Clark added they have seen more traffic now than a year ago.
“Students still need their resources, they need their books, they need their math lab, etc., so it was just a different way of being able to get them those resources,” said Green.
Some of the employees of the businesses here on campus added to the subject.
“There are more students here than last year,” said Subway employee Tara Porter. Regardless, she knows the number of students on campus will remain. “It’s gonna stay that way. There is still a low percentage of in-person classes, but I am very happy to see familiar faces.”
“Definitely from last year, there has been an increase of people on campus, with early college students coming back, and staff and faculty coming back, it’s about 60 percent on campus, which is pretty good, but definitely better than last year, but we’re still down sales from pre-pandemic,” said Starbucks employee Rachel Caywood.
Going for her Associates in Dental Hygiene and retail employee at the Sheffield Lake Cracker Barrel, Rebecca Cupek had been working for four months, but even she has seen an increase in people coming in.
“I got the job at the beginning of summer, and it was a lot slower, and then as the school year started picking up, it got a lot busier,” said Cupek. “For sales specifically, I work on Saturdays which are fairly busy, but they were a lot slower in the summer, and when school started to picked up.”
Elyria Dairy Queen
According to Elyria Dairy Queen Manager Stacey Mahnke, “We have been pretty busy for the past year and a half. A lot of that comes from the college, and from the elementary school next door as well.”
The Elyria Dairy Queen has seen a lot of traffic especially with its mobile and Door Dash services which have risen due to the pandemic.
“We’re seeing an increase in business because of that and because some other businesses in the area don’t have enough staff and they’re having to close, so we’re seeing an influx in business for both of those reasons,” said Elyria Dairy Queen Operator John Godfrey.
At Olde Town Pizza in Amherst, workers have become very busy with in-person classes being back in full swing, “It hasn’t affected us too much. Mornings are slow, but when the kids from the high school get out it starts to get busy,” said Bella Delturco, an employee at Olde Town. Since opening back up prices have increased a little, “Prices of meat and cheese have gone up, but not a whole lot. I don’t know the exact percentage of the increase in price, but I do know that items like the BLT fold-over have gone up $2.00,” Delturco said. During the lock down, stores had to make a few adjustments to still provide business, “When we were on lock down, we had to carry-out because we closed our dining room and had everything sectioned off.”
Arabica Coffee in Amherst has gotten a lot of business from not just high school students, but college students as well. “There is a lot more after-school traffic. With some college students being online they like to come in get coffee and do their assignments. It’s slowed down quite a bit though because most of them have gone back to being physically in class,” said Samantha Ives, an employee at Arabica. Once lockdown was over, Arabica’s prices were also increased just like Old Towne Pizza’s. It also became hard to get some of the items they need to run their business. “I don’t know the exact increase in the percentage, but I do know that it has been hard to get some of the things we usually order. Our owner just said yesterday that we used to order two months’ worth of food and drinks. Now we order two weeks’ worth at a time which means we are paying more money,” said Ives. COVID-19 took a toll on businesses income, “I didn’t start until about a month ago, but I do know that we were closed for a little while and there was also remodeling being done. We sometimes have people quarantine and we also wear masks to keep not just us safe but our customers,” said Ives.
According to Springboard, which is the leading provider of retail data analytics, retail traffic counting, and customer sentiment tracking for leading brands, shopping centers, and downtowns worldwide, foot traffic in general dropped 88% in the beginning of the pandemic. This has gradually improved to being 66.8 percent below 2019 levels by the end of the year. In 2021, pedestrian traffic is said to still be down nearly 51 percent.
Christina Yuhasz contributed to the report.