Maybe Thursday will get the ball rolling.
Must-have information for the Sidewalk Sale
Thousands of people are expected to pack the streets today for the annual Downtown Lawrence Sidewalk Sale.
The sale is from sunrise to sunset.
Be sure to check in with LJWorld.com throughout the day. We’ll have a live stream of Massachusetts Street as well as photos, videos and updates from reporters at the sale.
You can also submit your photos for our gallery.
There’s a chance of scattered showers and thunderstorms today, with a slim chance after 8 a.m. and again in the midafternoon as a slightly cooler air mass moves in. Highs are still expected to be near 91 degrees with a light northwest wind, although humidity will still stay fairly high, according to Matt Elwell, 6News meteorologist.
Free bus rides
The T is offering free rides today. Regular service is from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Routes 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7 and 11 travel downtown.
Lawrence Marketplace is looking to put cash in your pocket today. Visit its booth at Ninth and Massachusetts streets to enter to win $25 and $50 Visa gift cards. The booth opens at 7 a.m.
You can also win by completing the trip we’ve set up on Gowalla, a location-based social network similar to Foursquare. Anyone who checks in on Gowalla at all 11 destinations the day of the sale is entered to win a $50 Visa gift card.
If you’re going to the sale and you use Twitter, tag your tweets with #swsale. Anyone who tweets using that hashtag on the day of the sale is entered to win a $50 Visa gift card.
Your #swsale tweets will also be displayed as a live part of our news coverage. Let us know where you found a great deal and what you bought. Our CraveLawrence and LJWMarketplace Twitter accounts will also be tweeting deals and specials.
Learn more about participating vendors and contest rules by visiting the Sidewalk Sale resource page at LJWorld.com/swsale.
As shoppers prepare to swarm downtown Lawrence for its annual sidewalk sale, a new report out of City Hall shows consumer spending hasn’t yet bounced back in 2010.
Sales tax collections for the first six months of the year were down 0.8 percent (not including the new city transit and infrastructure sales taxes that began in April 2009). But some retailers are feeling better about their lot in life nonetheless.
“I feel that I’m beginning to see a turnaround,” said Leslie Ahlert, with downtown’s Stitch On Needlework, 926 Mass. “I don’t think consumers are feeling as much negativity. I’m hearing less negativity anyway.”
The numbers don’t yet show a turnaround, but they do show that pessimism may be waning a bit. The six-month report shows shoppers in Lawrence are spending less, but the rate of decline has slowed compared with 2009. Last year sales tax collections dropped by 3.1 percent, the biggest decline in recent memory. Unless the second half of 2010 takes a nasty turn, the city won’t experience that type of drop this year.
“I don’t think there is as much concern as there was two years ago, but there is still caution out there,” said John Ellena, with Lawrence’s Jack Ellena Honda dealership, 2112 W. 29th Terrace. “Nobody is in a hurry to do anything yet.”
The numbers also show that four out of the six months in 2010 actually saw increases in sales tax collections from the same month in 2009. But the two months that were down — January and March — were down so much that they caused the total to be below last year’s totals.
City Hall leaders are betting on a turnaround for 2011. As city commissioners prepare next year’s budget, they are projecting sales tax collections to increase 2 percent — or about $600,000 — over what they expect 2010 totals to be.
“We’re not talking about dramatic growth,” City Manager David Corliss said. “The historic growth level has been about 3 percent, so we’re still below that. We’re comfortable with the number.”
Some retailers agree.
“The further we get away from the fall of 2008, the more people feel like better times are ahead,” Ellena said. “I do think we’re seeing some improvement.”
But such optimism hasn’t found every corner of the market. Some shoppers noted that 2010 numbers are still down from 2009, which locally was considered one of the poorer shopping years on record.
“I still think we’re two or three years away from a turnaround,” said Sarah Elsen-Ybarra, who was shopping in downtown Wednesday. “I work in education, and I run across people all the time who are being laid off and losing their jobs. It just reminds you that it could happen to you the next day.”