Strong summer sales reported in Mt Washington Valley, NH
Businesses responding to a MWVCC survey over Labor Day weekend were enthusiastic about Labor Day and summer sales. Improved weather, economy and an increase in Canadian visitors cited as reasons for sales increases in Mt Washington Valley and White Mountains of NH.
News from Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce – Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Contact: Marti Mayne, 207-846-6331, firstname.lastname@example.org
MT WASHINGTON VALLEY BUSINESSES REPORT STRONG SUMMER SEASON & LABOR DAY WEEKEND
Increase in Canadian visitors, great weather and no hurricanes contribute to positive end of summer
North Conway, NH – When asked about summer and Labor Day sales, businesses throughout Mt Washington Valley were enthusiastic and positive. In a survey conducted by the Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce over Labor Day weekend, businesses from every tourism sector reported gains in visitors, sales and revenues over last year. Most survey respondents attributed the positive results to great weather, an increase in Canadian visitors and/or an improving economy.
Last year Hurricane Irene wreaked havoc in Mt Washington Valley shortly before Labor Day weekend, tearing out bridges and roads. Throughout much of late August and early September 2011 a number of Mt Washington Valley businesses were closed or experienced minimized operations, and consequent media reports scared visitors away. “This year, we had nothing but sunny weather reports to entice Labor Day visitors to Mt Washington Valley,” said Janice Crawford, Executive Director of the Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce. “Hurricane Irene is a distant memory and by comparison with last year, businesses could only post strong sales this Labor Day weekend, which they did,” finished Crawford. Add to the good weather recent changes allowing Canadian visitors to bring more goods from the U.S. into Canada duty free enticing Canadian shoppers to Mt Washington Valley’s tax-free shops, and the result is a positive ripple effect for lodging, dining, and attractions too.
A number of summer recreation and attractions businesses responded to the chamber’s survey about Labor Day and summer trends. Peter Gagne of Saco Canoe Rental Company reported “Our Labor Day business was up 70% over last year.” Additionally, Gagne reported that the summer season was the busiest ever in the 30 year history of Saco Canoe Rental Company, noting “We finished the season 15-percent up over last summer”. Gagne observed a huge increase in Canadian visitors yet fewer Europeans. Additionally, Gagne credited great weather for the company’s success. “The weather couldn't have been better. We only had one Saturday with predicted rain. July was hotter than normal so people headed to the river to keep cool. Simply put it was a "fantastic summer,” finished Gagne.
Bruce Hicks from Santa’s Village also weighed in saying Saturday and Sunday were both ahead of last year in revenues for Labor Day weekend. He noted Canadian traffic has been consistently up all summer by 8-percent, mostly coming from Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Testimony to the fact that consumer confidence among Mt Washington Valley visitors is up, Hicks reported that more people (both local residents and New Englanders) are purchasing seasons passes, allowing pass holders to use the park throughout the regular season, at Halloween and through the Christmas holidays.
Story Land concurred with Santa’s Village report, noting 2012 was one of the best Labor Day weekends in the last few years, and observing that Canadian visitors to the park contributed to the success. Susan Logan, Marketing Director for the Conway Scenic Railroad, said trains were sold out on Saturday.
The Farm by the River B and B with Stables, co-owner, Charlene Browne reported that beautiful weather over Labor Day drove traffic for horseback riding, noting that sales were up significantly after last year’s hurricane wash-out. Browne also credited the stables’ success with increased media coverage, and more Canadian and European traffic.
Thomas Prindle, Director of Marketing for Attitash Mountain Resort/Wildcat Mountain shared these observations: “It’s tough to even compare Labor Day weekend 2012 to last year’s same period on account of Tropical Storm Irene and its effects on travel in New Hampshire last summer. At Attitash, Labor Day visitor numbers rose significantly over last year. Comparing Labor Day 2012 to 2011, visits were up close to 70% over last year and revenues were up 100-percent for 2012 at Attitash.”
Terry O’Brien, Owner of the Red Parka Steakhouse & Pub, reported that Labor Day weekend sales showed an 8-percent increase over last year, noting that several factors contributed to the increase including perfect weather, no hurricanes and a significant increase in Canadian visitors. O’Brien shared, “The entire season from Memorial Day to Labor Day was up over last year. I think this can be attributed to the weather which has been spectacular. Great summer weather allowed us to use our Patio for dining almost every day.”
Charlie Mallar, co-owner of the 1785 Inn & Restaurant concurred that Labor Day sales were brisk; sharing that business was up over last year for both the restaurant and the inn. Mallar also shared they look forward to a strong fall foliage season.
Jason Robinson, Director of Marketing & Communications for Attitash Mountain Service Company, Inc. (Eastern Slope Inn, Oxen Yoke, Attitash Mountain Village, Attitash Marketplace Motel) reported that Labor Day weekend revenues for 2012 were up 25-percent over 2011. “We saw a significant increase in last minute bookings, both live and online. I think a trend of very favorable weather this summer helped to end the season strong, and the fact that we didn't have the negative media reports to contend with post Irene 2011 can't be overlooked,” noted Robinson. Robinson also shared “Many guests I spoke with were surprised by how busy the Valley was, and discussions suggested that many people are feeling more optimistic about the economy, possibly due to this being an election year.”
Carol Sullivan, Director of Sales and Marketing at the White Mountain Hotel & Resort, reported that revenues were up over last year by approximately 20-percent for both the summer and the Labor Day weekend. Like other reporting businesses, Sullivan concurred that there were more Canadians and international guests at the hotel all summer and that trend continued through Labor Day weekend.
Hampton Inn & Suites General Manager, Tom Spaulding shared that occupancy was even with last year at 100-percent for the three nights of Labor Day weekend. At the same time revenues were up 42-percent for the three day holiday and 13-perecent for summer (Memorial Day-Labor Day) due to changes in rates. According to Spaulding, “This is similar to what we have seen all summer. Confidence in the economy helps people spend more.” Spaulding is confident the fall foliage season will bode well given an increase in motorcoach and individual traveler bookings over last year.
Snowvillage Inn owners, Kevin Flynn and Jen Kovach felt the Labor Day weekend was excellent due to a number of weddings in the region putting “heads in beds”. Kovach also noted there were a wide range of international visitors and domestic guests coming from states further afar including Texas. She also noted a number of travelers are doing a “New England swing” visiting Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire, indicating renewed interest in longer vacations.
Ken Lydecker, owner of the Riverside Inn, reported a 12-percent increase in business for the summer due to a very strong August which continued right through Labor Day. He observed that the new gluten free/wheat free menu here is one factor attracting bookings.
When it comes to shopping, retailers reported increases in sales over 2011 for both the summer and the Labor Day Weekend. Darlene Leavitt, Manager of Synergy Sunglasses shared that July was 13-percent over last year, August was 26-percent over last year and Labor Day weekend was up by 45-percent over last year. Concurring with the general sentiment in the Valley, Leavitt felt there was an increase in Canadian shoppers too.
Matt Fusco, Owner of The Rugged Mill in North Conway Village was excited to report that gross sales were up 35-percent over Labor Day weekend last year. Fusco told the chamber, “Certainly not having to contend with Hurricane Irene seemed to bring back more visitors to the Valley. Plus we ran a more aggressive store sale this year which helped us move more inventory resulting in the higher gross sales.” Fusco also shared that the summer season was strong, finishing 13-percent up over summer season, 2011, with the greatest increases in July and over Labor Day weekend.
Dot Seybold, GM of Settlers’ Green Outlet Village and Settlers’ Crossing, reported an excellent weekend, saying that perfect shopping weather and great back to school sales contributed to record crowds. According to Seybold, many stores reported increases over prior years in both traffic and sales numbers for Labor Day weekend; plus sales figures from stores averaged 4 to 7-percent increases through mid-August confirming a positive summer sales trend. She also shared that there was definitely more Canadian traffic than usual along with very strong back to school interest.
Overall, sentiment was extremely positive for summer travel in Mt Washington Valley, culminating in a strong finish with Labor Day weekend. Mt Washington Valley businesses are optimistic for a brisk fall foliage season where the trend toward sales increases will continue. For more information on Mt Washington Valley, visit www.mtwashingtonvalley.org or call 1-800-DO-SEE-NH (800-367-3364). For further information about New Hampshire, visit the New Hampshire Division of Travel & Tourism website at www.visitnh.gov.
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