As all Oxonians know, the summer months are a mixed blessing. With the majority of students gone, permanent residents enjoy relatively light traffic, readily available parking, and short waits at local bars and restaurants.
The downside comes for local merchants, who in some years must cope with a significant loss of revenue. According to public records supplied by Visit Oxford, during the months of June and July of 2012, food and beverage tax receipts dropped by five and three percent, while hotel tax receipts dropped by 55 and 25 percent that year. While tax receipts vary from year to year, merchants must plan for the possibility of a slowdown during the summer months.
Krisi Allen, General Manager at The Growler on North Lamar Avenue, utilizes the annual Double Decker Festival as a hedge against the slow months.
“We realized last year that right before the summer comes is Double Decker, which is our biggest day of the year,” said Allen. “This year we knew what we were going into, and made plans accordingly, and used that as a starting point to budget for the summer. We do budget differently, staff is not as high in the summer time, so labor costs are down.”
Davidscott Moore, Executive Consultant at the Blind Pig on the Square, agrees. “For Double Decker, that’s a week’s worth of sales in one day,” said Moore. “We try to save between three and six grand just from Double Decker.”
Moore stated that there are also many positives to summer in Oxford.
“The first two weeks after commencement can be a very dead period. What I like about summer is once we get past those two weeks, townies don’t want to avoid the Square as much,” Moore said. “You get a lot more people from town and the county. They’re a lot more likely to come to the Square during the week. We’ll start seeing people in the summer who I haven’t seen in months because they steer clear of the Square during the school year.”
“It’s always quieter in the summer,” said Allen. “So many of our dedicated customers are locals, so a lot of the time it’s better for them, because they aren’t fighting traffic, parking, and all the things you would normally fight to get here. We are doing a better job this year with special events for the summer, pint nights with breweries, things that people would like to see but they’re hard to get planned during school.”
Allen said that the slower tempo of the summer months allows them to turn their attention to planning for the fall. “We introduced a mimosa menu, and we hope to ramp it up with brunch for football season. We’ll spend July working on that, kind of taking some of our down time to do planning for busier times.”
Moore says that overall, business for the Blind Pig is good. “For the last three years, we’ve been very lucky for a business on the Square in a college town. We have enough regular and local business that, to be honest, I wish we went from summer straight to spring. The fall is horrible. Too much inconsistency, high volume, lots of stress. For me, summers are very good.”
Bill DeJournett is a musician and freelance writer based in Oxford. For questions or comments, email us at email@example.com.