Archive for Sunday, April 18, 2010

Downtown hours

An analysis of downtown sales tax receipts suggests that some downtown retailers might take another look at their evening hours.

April 18, 2010


If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Although a new study indicates that downtown Lawrence’s shift to an entertainment district may be topping out, almost half of the sales tax receipts in downtown still are collected by bars and restaurants.

The study released last week by the city’s economic development coordinator compared 2007 and 2009 sales tax receipts in several downtown business categories. Bars and restaurants collected 49 percent of the taxes in 2009, but that was down about 3 percent from 2007. Although a number of retail businesses closed or moved out of downtown during that time, the retail sector posted some modest gains.

The sports, books, music and hobby stores category recorded a 10.3 percent increase in sales tax receipts in that period, “Other retail,” which includes barber shops, boutiques and about everything else except clothing stores, had a 6.5 percent increase.

The big gain recorded by sports, books, music and hobby stores once again raises questions about how downtown retailers might benefit from extending their hours later in the evening to take better advantage of people who come downtown to enjoy an evening cocktail or meal.

A quick check on’s Marketplace site shows that four downtown bookstores — Borders, Dusty Bookshelf, The Raven and Signs of Life — all have extended evening hours. All are open until at least 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and a couple extend their hours until 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. Signs of Life, which also operates a cafe is open until 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

It’s certainly reasonable to wonder if the increased sales tax receipts in the category that includes book stores is at least partially attributable to those stores extending their hours to take advantage of shoppers who also are downtown to enjoy entertainment venues like bars and restaurants.

Individual downtown retailers, of course, are in the best position to know whether increased evening sales are great enough to justify the increased cost of keeping their businesses open later. However, especially during daylight-saving time, when long evenings invite more foot traffic downtown, the idea of staying open later may be worth additional consideration.

Rather than bemoaning the loss of downtown stores or worrying about the balance between entertainment venues and traditional retail, it might be smarter to try to build a more symbiotic relationship between the two.


headdoctor 7 years, 7 months ago

This editorial might have some legs if it was using actual income figures and not sales tax receipts. The harsh reality is when the economy started tanking, manufactures, and distributors raised their prices regardless of cause instead of the price going down like one would think they should. Higher costs drove prices up for a while and thus the sales tax collected increased. While that theory would not hold for places for like Dusty Bookshelf who deals with used items instead of new. It would be interesting to know if the actual profit increased.

I know that the hours of operation downtown have been a concern before this editorial date. Some businesses have tried staying open longer in the past. I have to think that if the owners thought it would be or found it to be profitable, they would have already made hour changes. Just because a store has more sales from being open later does not translate to more profit once the overhead cost is figured in but the extra sales would increase the sales tax collected.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 7 months ago

This matter has been discussed several times. If the stores decide to stay open how will anyone know? It will take a while to catch on.

How about if the city tries to put some new life into downtown? Such as celebrate the change in seasons with appropriate landscaping. Have downtown Lawrence become known for its' horticultural wonders that might attract visitors. It happpens in some communities when azaleas decide to bloom. Lordy do the visitors love it. Azalea festivals are everywhere.

Evergreens evergreens evergreens. Spring blooms,summer blooms,fall/winter colors

Celebrate spring and spring blooms with a sidewalk sale event in April. Celebrate fall with yet another sidewalk sale. Do sidewalk sales during these periods in order to miss school breaks/vacation times.

Let's make millions from existing resources. Lawrence must do something to make up the loss that is suffered by home games being played in KCMO and school breaks.

Bike competition is doing its ’job… hats off. Did not need new roads for that.

Sidewalk sales are such a great opportunity for Lawrence. I say let's change it a bit. Let's have a full blown carnival. After all with home games being outsourced here's an opportunity to make some revenue loss.

Let's reorganize a little = make it crazier and even more fun when schools are in session thus more buyers/participants.

Block off Mass between 7th and 9th. Leaving numbered streets open.

Have musicians play from 11 AM til ?

Invite local nurseries, local farmers and artists to set up in the street. *

Bring on the local food and brew vendors as well!

Try to schedule these events on game days = more hectic,more fun for fans and more revenue for Lawrence

Why spring and fall? KU and public school is in session = more people available locally and from surrounding communities ( folks are back from vacations).

Have items inside the stores marked down some as well. Make the whole sidewalk sale visit worth while and fun.

Again after all with home games being outsourced here's an opportunity to make up the revenue loss.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 7 months ago

Arts and cultural districts are an increasingly popular economic development tool for local governments across the country. When theatres, performing arts centers, museums, art galleries, and artist studios are encouraged to locate in the same neighborhood, the neighborhood becomes a magnet for the general public.

Restaurants, gift shops, and art supply stores soon follow. Commercial enterprises, such as graphic design studios, advertising agencies, and architectural firms are attracted to such areas. When localities can achieve a critical mass of arts-related activities in a single area, these neighborhoods are appealing to what is often called the creative class of workers, many of whom prefer to live in and at least in close proximity to the arts and cultural districts.

Nonsense 7 years, 7 months ago

I stopped counting the times I have been downtown and wanted to go to a store and buy something to find that they are not open at 6 at night or on the weekend. My dollar ends up going to a store I hate, but is open. Please downtown merchants, this is no longer the 70's. Stores stay open at night. I don't have the luxury of a job that allows me to stroll through your store on my lunch hour. You are killing yourselves and will have no one to blame...

headdoctor 7 years, 7 months ago

It all boils down to revenue per square foot. Many of the non bar/entertainment businesses cannot generate enough revenue to make a living with the costs of doing business downtown. There are places who have tried staying open later and the only thing that increases besides overhead is the number of people wandering in to kill time but not to buy anything.

In order to preserve actual shopping downtown it is going to take more than the City, the Chamber and the DL just spending time having tea parties about the issue. I also find it amusing that this editorial comes from a business that the owner has done his own amount of pushing around or making it difficult for other small businesses to operate in town especially if they happen to be some remote form of competition. What do you say Dolph? Care to answer to that statement? I personally know of two people who were refused advertisement in the LJW because of potential competition.

StirrrThePot 7 years, 7 months ago

"almost half of the sales tax receipts in downtown still are collected by bars and restaurants."

That's because that is what's mostly down there. It seems like every time a place like Palace Cards and Gifts closes, some restaurant opens in its place.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.