As the school year draws to a close, area stores and restaurants are preparing for two changes in the business climate, one traditional and one new.
Summer is usually a somewhat slower time for New Haven businesses, as students leave and city residents go on vacation. In addition, the first stores are expected to move into the renovated Chapel Square Mall area in early fall.
University Properties analyst Andrea Pizziconi ’01 said her department used to warn tenants that sales would go down as much as 30 percent over the summer. But now, thanks in part to both city events like the summer concert series and the selection of tenants with broader appeal, Pizziconi said the environment is much better when students depart.
“New Haven has become much more of a center of the region,” Pizziconi said.
Michael Iannuzzi, owner of TYCO Copy, said business does decline over the summer, but there is a “night and day difference” in street activity from 15 years ago. Area store managers described a number of factors that have decreased the impact of the summer months.
Bottega Giuliana manager Carla Maravalle said her store has a large customer base in surrounding towns.
“We notice a little difference when students leave, but not that much,” Maravalle said.
Karl Ryan, manager of Atticus Bookstore-Cafe, said the jazz festival, the International Festival of Arts and Ideas, and tourists help minimize the difference between summer and the other parts of the year. The major impact he sees is on the types of books his customers buy, with more mysteries, fiction, paperbacks, and travel books being sold in the summer months.
A different type of customer comes to Urban Outfitters in June and July, manager Brian Hull said. He said students in summer programs at Yale help provide a “steady flow” of business.
But the summer still has an impact. Anthony Koutroumanis, a partner and owner of Yorkside Pizza and Restaurant, said sales start to suffer after graduation day but alumni reunions during the following two weeks help to bolster sales. While summer classes help a little, Koutroumanis, who has owned pizzerias in the neighborhood for 33 years, said sales always decline significantly.
“There’s nothing you can do about it,” Koutroumanis said.
Carlos Perez, the manager of the cafe portion of Atticus, said sales decline 20 to 30 percent in July and August.
In February, developer Lehr Jackson showed a plan for Chapel Square that included spaces mapped out for a home furnishings store, a fashion store, a restaurant, a cafe and a fitness center. Jackson said the first stores could open in August.
All of the contacted store mangers said they thought the new shopping area would have a positive or, at worst, a negligible impact on their business. They said they hoped the new shops’ and eateries’ combined force would draw more customers from outside the city who would not come just to visit a single store.
Many of the stores in the area sell unique items that may not be available in the new mall’s shops. Debbie Fillos and Candice Urbanowicz of Wave, a craft store on Chapel Street, said they did not think the new stores would have much of an effect because they have exclusive deals with many of their artists.
“We’re the only craft gallery in New Haven,” Urbanowicz said. “We know half of the people that come in by name and they know us by name.”