Thanksgiving snow brings mixed sentiments from retailers and skiers
News from Mt Washington Valley, NH – December 1, 2014
Contact: Marti Mayne, 207-846-6331, PR@mtwashingtonvalley.org
PRE-THANKSGIVING SNOW BRINGS HIGH FIVES FROM SOME AND NOT FROM OTHERS
Mt Washington Valley businesses weighed in on Thanksgiving weekend, Black Friday and Small Business Saturday traffic and sales
North Conway, NH – An informal survey distributed by the Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce revealed mixed results from businesses when asked about Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Small Business Saturday sales. While most businesses were generally positive about traffic and sales, some reported an impact from power outages in New England, which lead to lower traffic throughout the weekend. In general, the pre-Thanksgiving snow resulted in high fives from the Valley’s ski resorts and XC Centers and retailers reporting stronger Saturday or Sunday sales. “While Mother Nature may have thrown a wrench in some of our visitors’ travel plans, we welcomed the November 27th snow storm, which certainly added a holiday feel and twinkle to businesses throughout Mt Washington Valley,” summarized Janice Crawford, Executive Director of the Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce. “With an event-and-sales-filled weekend, we were delighted with the strong visitor traffic we saw in Mt Washington Valley,” finished Crawford who added it was a good way to kick off the 250th Anniversary of the Town of Conway.
Steve Lambert reported from Bernerhof Inn that longer stays were up over last year this Thanksgiving holiday with many guests arriving on Wednesday and booking longer stays. The Bernerhof Inn introduced a Thanksgiving dinner which was a hit with those guests who wanted to avoid the cooking and clean up at home.
Jen Kovach at Snowvillage Inn reported that bookings were up over last year by 40-percent. “Folks wanted to come up and enjoy the snow. We received a bunch of last minute bookings after the big snow,” reported Kovach who also noted that the ski resorts did a great job at getting ready for the season.
Charlene Brown co-owner of Farm by the River B&B with Stables reported that the inn was busy with Polar Express families. Additionally every slot was full on sleigh rides and horseback rides, accounting for a 15-percent increase over last year’s Thanksgiving weekend.
While a number of additional lodging properties weighed in to the survey, they asked to remain anonymous. The consensus from hotels and inns/B&Bs was that bookings were well up over last year, filled mostly by shoppers coming for weekend sales and skiers getting their first tracks. Some lodging members speculated that the lower gas prices were a bonus this year, making it an easier choice to take a trip over the long holiday. Others noted that online marketing campaigns and strong consumer confidence fueled the holiday getaways. And everyone was in agreement that the pre-Thanksgiving snow helped to drive skier traffic.
Terry O’Brien from the Red Parka Steakhouse and Pub reported that traffic was down over last year on Black Friday, probably due in part to power outages keeping travelers at home on Friday. However, she also reported that Saturday’s sales were well ahead of last year, as shoppers and skiers did their “après dining” there.
Rafferty’s Restaurant and Pub reported an increase in diners over last year throughout the weekend. The restaurant served a free Thanksgiving dinner and reported a large increase in the number attending with 125 people this year versus 75 people last year enjoying the generous dinner. While many people attending the dinner were from the North Conway community, Linda Rafferty reported “We also had vacationers away from family who are very willing to donate to our funds that go back to the Vaughn Food Bank too.” The restaurant collected $500 in donations, which are still being taken, for the Food Bank.
Ski resorts reported as much as 16-inches of new snow fell right before the Thanksgiving holiday giving way to powder conditions on Thanksgiving Day. The new snowfall allowed Bretton Woods to open their Nordic Center and welcome skiers for their Homecoming weekend. Thomas Prindle, Marketing Director for Attitash and Wildcat, reported “Wildcat's summit high-speed quad opened a bit earlier than scheduled on Thanksgiving morning to the delight of skiers and riders who were ready to enjoy top-to-bottom skiing and riding. Even before the storm, Wildcat already had more than 25% of its terrain open.” Parking lots at Wildcat were full throughout the Thanksgiving weekend with skiers coming to enjoy the Thanksgiving powder.
Cranmore Mountain Resort’s Marketing Director, Becca Deschenes, reported skiers and riders enjoyed mid-winter conditions at the mountain over the Thanksgiving weekend. “For ski area visits, including paid and season pass, we were up 45-percent over last year,” shared Deschenes, noting that the tubing park was also up over last year by 16-percent with two lanes of tubing open. The resort’s annual Homecoming event and trail sign silent auction raised $2500 for the Jimmy Mersereau Scholarship Foundation. According to Deschenes, “we finished the night off with a sold out showing of Warren Miller’s latest film, No Turning Back. The high energy of the whole weekend was a great way to start the new ski season.”
Had they been open, Northeast Snowmobile and ATV Rentals would have done brisk business, according to Terry MacGillivray who reported that the phone rang all weekend with snowmobilers looking to get out on the trails.
The chamber received a mixed report from retailers in Settlers’ Green Outlet Village and North Conway Village. A news report from Settlers’ Green Outlet Village recounted that Black Friday sales started on Thanksgiving Day with Old Navy opening at 4:00pm. Throughout Black Friday parking lots and stores were packed with shoppers enjoying Black Friday sales, although according to Dot Seybold, General Manager of Settlers’ Green Outlet Village, “Black Friday traffic was down. A lot of people were without power on Thursday and into Friday. More snow on Thursday night in southern areas didn't help and everyone busy digging out.” However, Saturday and Sunday sales were very strong at Settlers’ Green according to Seybold where, bargain shoppers were looking for the best deals. “Those stores with good discounts converted traffic into sales including Timberland Factory Store and Maidenform,” reported Seybold.
Shelagh Morton, Manager Brooks Brothers Factory Store at Settlers’ Green, responded simply saying “Gotta love the early snow!” indicating the snow brought both skiers and shoppers to North Conway.
In North Conway Village, Matt Fusco, owner and manager of The Rugged Mill reported that Black Friday drove sales 8-percent up over last year, but traffic and sales on Small Business Saturday were disappointing. “Whether it was because visitors were skiing or still digging out, sales were off by 30-percent on Saturday, then rebounded on Sunday with a 14-percent increase over last year,” said Fusco. Overall, sales were off of last year due to the Saturday “blip” in sales at The Rugged Mill, but with great deals and holiday gift ideas at the store, Fusco is confident that the rest of the holiday shopping season will go well.
Also in North Conway Village, Tim Psaledakis, owner of Jewelry by Tim & Friends reported that the Village was very busy with the Old Fashioned Christmas celebration in Schouler Park on Saturday, but it didn’t translate into traffic in his store. Yet since most of his clients are fellow business owners, he is optimistic about the holiday season traffic during the weeks to come.
Mt Washington Valley businesses expressed optimism for the upcoming holiday season. With a number of Locals Shopping events being offered at Settlers’ Green along with more ski resorts and XC Centers opening in the upcoming weeks, the Valley is poised for a strong holiday season. For more information about planning a holiday, winter or skiing adventure, visit www.MtWashingtonValley.org or call 1-800-367-3364 to talk to a vacation concierge. To learn more about planning a New Hampshire vacation, go to www.VisitNH.gov.
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Holiday shopping photo of filled parking lots supplied by Settlers’ Green Outlet Village, and taken on Black Friday, November 28, 2014.