While the recent holiday season saw significant increases in national consumer expenditures and retail sales, some New Haven stores have had a less than happy New Year.
Some local stores, including J. Crew, Trailblazer and Ashley’s Ice Cream, said their winter sales were up from last year, but other city business owners — particularly those on Chapel Street — said the holiday season did not bring the number of customers they had expected.
“We had a really great season,” said Dana Nobile, the manager of the J. Crew store on Broadway. “Definitely we did better than last year.”
But after conducting a survey of local retail revenue, the Chapel Street Merchants Association said reactions to holiday sales by store owners were varied.
“It was kind of a ho-hum Christmas,” said Peter Indorff, owner of the Indorff Jewelry store on Chapel Street and president of the association.
Trailblazer owner Craig Aaker said he attributes much of the holiday revenue increases seen by some local businesses to large-scale downtown revitalization efforts. University Properties Director of Marketing Shana Schneider also said New Haven’s economic and residential improvement projects have attracted more business from outside the city.
“People are becoming a little more aware of the shopping in New Haven,” she said. “My feelings are a lot of people who live here are deciding they don’t like the hustle and bustle of malls and are deciding to come to New Haven.”
Kelly Hernandez, the owner of the Chapel Street women’s clothing boutique Maxine, said she has seen a definite influx of customers from the surrounding towns of Hamden, Woodbridge and Bethany. Still, she said she was disappointed by winter sales.
“The holiday season was flat,” Hernandez said.
For new additions to the New Haven retail scene, holiday sales prompted similarly mixed reviews. A manager of Wishlist, an upscale clothing boutique recently added to the York Street and Broadway business district, said that although the store met its projected goals for the holiday season, its profits were only 40 percent of those grossed by Wishlist’s Westport, Conn. branch. Although Wishlist’s manager said the store did well for its first holiday season, she does not anticipate the revenue from the New Haven store will ever match that of its Westport counterpart, largely due to the mass exodus of Yale students from the city in December.
As some local store owners work to recover from an unfavorable holiday season and others celebrate a fruitful one, almost all local business owners said they hope downtown economic development efforts will increase future retail revenue.
According to U.S. Census Bureau statistics, both the average annual household expenditure and retail sales in New Haven are expected to increase by 6.6 percent from 2004 to 2009.