Mt Washington Valley businesses report in on Labor Day and Summer 2013 sales
NEWS FROM MT WASHINGTON VALLEY, NH – September 3, 2013
Contact: Marti Mayne, MWVCC PR Manager, 207-846-6331, PR@mtwashingtonvalley.org
RAINY MONDAY PUT A DAMPER ON AN OTHERWISE STRONG LABOR DAY IN MT WASHINGTON VALLEY
Despite slow start to summer, Mt Washington Valley businesses report strong August sales
North Conway, NH – Had it not been for a rainy Labor Day, many Mt Washington Valley businesses were slated for strong Labor Day 2013 sales. While the rain caused a number of attractions to close on Labor Day, it sent them shopping as stores reported robust traffic on Labor Day, according to a survey of local businesses by the Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce. While rain also impacted sales earlier in the summer, according to many business owners, August was reportedly a blockbuster month for most reporting businesses, allowing sales for the summer to end on par with or ahead of last year. “Rainy weather in Mt Washington Valley is a bane for outdoor attractions, golf and nature oriented businesses and a boon for retailers, train rides and restaurants,” stated Janice Crawford, Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce Executive Director. “Yet, as long as visitors are here in the Valley, the options are plentiful for rainy weather fun,” finished Crawford.
All of the attractions that responded to the Chamber’s survey agreed that they were looking forward to a strong Labor Day until the weather turned rainy. “Comparing 2013 to 2012, Labor Day weekend this summer was strong and on par with last year except for Monday when weather/rain forced both Attitash and Wildcat to close,” said Thomas Prindle, Director of Marketing at Attitash Mountain Resort and Wildcat Mountain. “If we had been able to operate on Monday, based on the visits we saw over the weekend, we would likely have surpassed last year at both resorts,” shared Prindle. Yet, both Wildcat and Attitash posted a strong end of the summer. John Lowell, President of Attitash Mountain Resort and Wildcat Mountain weighed in regarding summer sales saying “May and June were disappointing, July was good and August was fantastic at both Attitash and Wildcat! We are pleased to have been fortunate enough to have recovered from a very slow start to the summer season.”
Jack Mahany, Assistant General Manager at Story Land shared “up until Monday, 2013 Labor Day Weekend was even with last year. August was awesome, which made up for a rainy July. For the summer, Story Land’s attendance was even with last year, which is amazing.”
Despite extremely taxing weather conditions this summer, Peter Gagne at Saco River Canoe felt encouraged by the summer business. “This summer’s weather was very challenging,” stated Gagne. “We never had a summer when the Saco River was above the daily normal flow every single day. May and June business was off 70-percent, July was off 10-percent and August was up 10-percent. August was amazing! Despite being down 10-percent Saco River Canoe is extremely pleased with summer business; we beat forecast,” finished Gagne.
Becca Deschenes, Marketing Manager at Cranmore Mountain Resort reported that Labor Day numbers were behind last year due to the need for a weather-closure on Monday. In fact, summer rain and wind had an impact on Cranmore’s sales earlier this summer. “We started off with a challenging summer, with rain and heat,” said Deschenes. “August has been great, and Cranmore has seen its top three busiest days in the last two weeks in August since opening for summer operations three years ago,” finished Deschenes. Deschenes also credits an increase in group sales for strong August sales.
For the Conway Scenic Railroad, rain is a bonus and both the rainy summer and Labor Day weather sent customers from throughout the world to the attraction. “Both Labor Day weekend and this summer were up compared to 2012,” said Marketing Manager, Susan Logan, crediting lots of Canadians, more international families, and more visitors from far domestic markets than they’ve seen in past summers for strong sales. According to Logan, “People are spending more here. Our First Class cars sell out before Coach, and the First Class Package on our Notch Train has been extremely popular, with packages sold being up significantly over last year.”
A number of Mt Washington Valley lodging properties weighed in to the survey about Labor Day and summer business, most reporting strong summer and Labor Day sales, with many crediting an increase in Canadian guests and more families in the region as the reason. Sandy Allan, Owner of Beaver Hollow Campground shared that Labor Day 2013 was definitely better than 2012, explaining that the campground’s fundraisers helped bring in business. Allan also shared that summer sales were up over last year, explaining, “People in general just seem to be out and about more this year.”
Christopher Bellis, owner of the Cranmore Inn reported Labor Day bookings up 20-percent over last year and room sales more than double that from the summer before. Bellis credits the many updates that have been made to the inn over his first year of ownership for increases, plus a significant number of Canadian and family bookings too.
Steve Lambert, General Manager at Red Jacket Mountain View and Fox Ridge Resorts felt that their 10-percent increase for the summer could be attributed to more Canadian and Northern Massachusetts guests plus longer stays for guests. The hot weather earlier in the summer was a bonus for the Kahuna Laguna Water Park too.
Donna Pearce at Admiral Peary Inn in Fryeburg, ME also reported a 21-percent increase in occupancy for Labor Day weekend and sold out weekends throughout the summer. The inn’s dog-friendly policy and Fryeburg Academy business helped contribute to increases for the inn, according to Pearce.
Kevin Flynn, co-owner of the Snowvillage Inn in Eaton reported a 20-percent increase in bookings at the inn for Labor Day weekend and for the summer months too. Flynn related a significant increase in Canadian guests and an even larger increase in bookings from European travelers this summer.
The restaurant at the Snowvillage Inn reported a 50-percent increase in business for the summer months. New ownership, fresh cuisine and an influx of local diners were among the reasons Flynn offered for the increases.
Rainy weather always proves to be a bonus for retailers in Mt Washington Valley. Dot Seybold, Retail General Manager at OVP Management, Inc. said “The week prior to Labor Day was very busy with many stores reporting strong Friday traffic. Monday’s inclement weather brought in the shoppers and the malls were very busy. Several stores reported traffic gains of two to five percent,” said Seybold who reminded us that more traffic equals more sales and the malls are seeing a strong start to September for retail.
Unlike Settlers’ Green, Brooks Brothers Factory Store saw a negative impact from the rain over Labor Day weekend. According to Shelagh Morton, Store Manager, Labor Day sales were down yet summer sales were even with last year. Morton shared that 20-to-30-percent of the business in the store came from Canadians this summer.
Looking ahead to fall, Mt Washington Valley businesses are optimistic. Jack Mahany at Story Land said “with six wonderful fall weekends coming up we just may exceed 2012 attendance numbers!” And John Lowell, at Attitash Mountain and Wildcat Mountain shared “We are looking forward to a successful fall with foliage driving visits to Pinkham Notch and our annual Oktoberfest event at Attitash on Columbus Day weekend before turning our attention to the colder months and final preparations at both the resorts for winter operations.” Innkeepers and hotel/resort owners feel that advance bookings bode well for a strong fall foliage season. With all the rain of the summer, trees are healthy which makes for colorful changes to the scenery as the days get shorter and the temps cool down. In fact, Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce suggests those considering fall foliage getaways should book now or forever hold their peep!
For more information on planning a fall foliage getaway and visiting Mt Washington Valley, visit www.mtwashingtonvalley.org for full vacation planning resources. To talk with a vacation concierge about ideas or itineraries, call 1-800-DO-SEE-NH (800-367-3364). To learn more about visiting New Hampshire, go to www.visitnh.gov.
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High and low-res photos available upon request.