As the stress of finals week concludes and UNC students leave town, Chapel Hill businesses will look to permanent residents to fill their shops and restaurants.
Katie Loovis, vice president for external affairs at the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce, said the total economic impact of winter break is felt most strongly by restaurants and retail but is less extreme than one may think.
Although roughly 30,000 students leave for the break, Loovis said many University faculty, hospital staff and international students stay in town, meaning Chapel Hill shops continue to serve a large customer base.
“Business owners are smart and they plan for that, and the Downtown Partnership is doing quite a bit throughout the holiday season to promote shopping local," she said. "So I think there’s a lot of effort of make sure that businesses, especially our small, local businesses, can thrive."
Dwight Bassett, Chapel Hill’s economic development officer, said businesses’ success over the break is related to their location and resulting customer base.
“Businesses located on the Blue Hill District or at Eastgate shopping center may depend more on residents versus the convenience of students walking across from campus,” he said.
Some businesses may work together to offer sales over winter break that attract more customers, Loovis said.
Chad Bohley, general manager at Lotsa, said the Franklin Street pizza place would continue its lunch special through the holiday season, but the restaurant will close at 9 p.m. in anticipation of fewer late-night guests.
Bohley said when Lotsa opened in August, management knew from experience business would slow during breaks: nine of the company’s 10 locations are located on college campuses.