Mill Avenue stores prepare for slump in summer sales

Each summer, thousands of ASU students leave Tempe and go home for 13 weeks, leaving local businesses to see the effects students have on the economy and what happens when school isn’t in session.

When students leave for the summer, their money goes with them. Many Mill Avenue businesses don’t see as many customers during the summer break, according to several store managers and employees.

Kris Baxter-Ging, a marketing specialist with the city of Tempe, said summer is slower for the entire state, including Tempe.

“Tempe’s downtown is not as busy when the ASU students are not here,” she said. “The rest of Tempe is less affected.”

At the University, more than 51,000 students are enrolled at the Tempe campus and about 40 percent of Tempe’s 158,000 residents are under the age of 24, according to census results from 2006.

Danielle Ortega has lived in Arizona all her life and now works at Campus Corner on Mill Avenue, a store that sells Sun Devil merchandise.

Summer business is much slower than the rest of the year, she said.

“It’s busy in the semester, but in the summer, everything changes,” Ortega said. “We can relax a little more. But on the weekends it’s still lively and we get the crowd that goes out at night.”

Nixi Psaltis, an employee at Graffiti Shop on Mill Avenue, which sells jewelry and clothes, said the business sees a 30 to 40 percent decrease in the average daily sales when summer comes around.

“Being a store on Mill Avenue, which is predominantly ASU populated, it’s kind of like a ghost town during the summer months,” she said.

Some stores don’t have the student business that others do. Yucatecan Imports, which sells imports such as bags and clothing the owner finds on his travels, hasn’t seen significant decreases in business during the summer months, said Barbara Poulson, one of the owners.

“I don’t think it affects us,” she said. “Most are repeat customers or travelers.”

Some students have also recognized the decreased business summer causes.

“Summer is a big drawback for the stores,” said journalism freshman Matt Wittenberg. “When a college town doesn’t have many college kids in it, there’s going to be a very noticeable dip in business.”

Reach the reporter at jncrane@asu.edu