It's the Slowest Time of the Year for Some Businesses Near the University of Florida
While most businesses are experiencing the extra economic boost that the holiday's bring, some businesses in North Central Florida are seeing a sharp decline in customers.
When school is out, sales go down for many nearby businesses around the University of Florida campus. Cory Lineback owns The Gelato Company downtown. He said, "This is the slowest two weeks of the year in Gainesville."
He and many other business owners are feeling the absence of nearly 50,000 students home for the holidays. Manager Lauren Stucki said, "The students, we do a lot of business with them, so when they're gone it's not good for us." Businesses like Burrito Brothers Taco Co. just off of University Avenue, that rely on students, have to plan ahead to make it through Christmas. Stucki said, "Football season is what usually sees us through the slow times cause we do so much more business for football games and just during the fall semester in general, it usually lets us stock up a little bit for the slow times."
Some, like Target Copy on University Avenue, build their customer base to help mitigate the effects. Manager Jennifer Ford said, "Cause we do, do so many other businesses besides the University of Florida, we love having the University of Florida as a client, but the others definitely keep us pretty steady."
Business owners also choose to reduce their staff level or hours of operation at this time of year. And less traffic means more time to catch up on things that need to be done. Lineback said, "A lot of cleaning gets done, a lot of planning for next semester gets done, a lot of advertising for next semester is in the works."
The break can also bring a much needed change of pace. Chip Ratliff, owner of Athletic Cuts across from the University said, "But it's a good time, we get to rest here in Gainesville, the streets are easy, you can go to the movies easy...and then right about the time you miss the kids, here they come running back."
Even though it hurts when the students are gone, most are happy to endure this downturn for the stability students bring throughout the rest of the year. Stucki said, "it's just the cycle of being in a college town...the University is so good to us when it's in session, you know that it makes up for the slow times."
Students start returning just before January first, and businesses around the University are looking forward to ringing in the New Year with more customers.
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