Businesses prep for holidays

Local restaurants are preparing for a busy weekend due to late-night study breaks for finals.
Local restaurants are preparing for a busy weekend due to late-night study breaks for finals. Photo by Jennifer Cheung.

As Yale students gear up for their finals and the holiday season, campus area businesses are preparing to capitalize on students’ end-of-semester habits.

Broadway retail outlets including Campus Customs, Urban Outfitters and the Yale Bookstore are bracing for this weekend, which they expect to be one of the busiest holiday shopping weekends for students. Meanwhile, local restaurants such as Tomatillo Burrito and Ashley’s Ice Cream are getting ready to fuel late-night study breaks as finals draw near. Retailers will have a few more days than in years past to make student sales since final exams finish later in December.

Restaurant owners and managers interviewed disagreed over whether final exams impact food sales. Sherif Farook, the owner of Tomatillo Taco Joint, said that during finals, he predicts overall sales will not increase dramatically but delivery orders will rise. Next door, the manager of Ivy Noodle, Pat Lim, said that finals and the holidays have little effect on food sales, which instead surge for events like football games.

The shift manager at Ashley’s Ice Cream, Kristin Firine, however, said that there is a boost in ice cream sales during finals. Yale students as well as Quinnipiac University and Southern Connecticut State University students come to Ashley’s for ice cream during finals, she added. She said finals and presidential debates are when she observes students “de-stressing with ice cream.”

Clothing stores are also preparing for the preholiday rush. Campus Customs has its annual 40 percent off holiday sale this morning from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. After 9:00 the store will continue to sell items at 20 percent off, said its owner Barry Cobden. Yale Bookstore General Manager Joe King said his store will begin its 20 percent off Christmas sale this weekend, which is scheduled at the beginning of reading period to be convenient for students. Urban Outfitters has a 50 percent off sale this weekend, as well.

Anne Johnson, the store manager of Laila Rowe, mentioned no major sale this weekend, but said the store will have its usual holiday promotions throughout the season. She said the store, which has scarves, rainwear and necklaces, is popular for Secret Santa gift exchanges and boyfriends shopping for their girlfriends.

Store owners interviewed all said that sales generally decrease once students leave campus. When students head home, “it’s like a zombie town,” said Christina Deberry, the men’s department manager at Urban Outfitters. Farook said that 50 percent of the traffic at his store comes from students.

Once students go home, there are so few customers that workers at Ashley’s can usually do their homework or read a book, she said.

Other store owners said the target customer merely shifts when Yale students leave. After finals are over, the city holds holiday events as New Haven college students come home, shifting the customer makeup in downtown New Haven, Cobden said. The Yale Bookstore sells a lot of Christmas items to New Haven residents, King said, but sales decrease once students leave.

Americans spend an average of $704 during the holiday season on gifts, according to Business Insider.

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