Late School Start Helps Retail

WILMINGTON -- Employees at the Aeropostale at Westfield Independence Mall were folding and folding, but few customers were buying. The target market for many shops was heading back to school.

"I think the traffic has slowed down quite a bit," said Anne-Marie Click, store manager at Aeropostale. "We'll pick up a bit when students get out of school. But definitely we saw a big difference with kids going back to school today."

Monday was the first day of school in New Hanover County. Stores like Aeropostale, usually full of teens, were virtually empty.

Click has worked at Aeropostale for six years, and is quite knowledgeable on retail sales. Last year, the state pushed back the start of school by two weeks to help tourism businesses. Click said the two-week delay helped boost August sales.

"It was definitely positive for us," said Click. "It's helped with our business with kids being out. The weather has helped us too."

Some businesses that cater to residents and tourists said if they could have it their way, schools would be pushed back until after Labor Day to help sales numbers.

"There's gonna be a lull before a big holiday weekend like Labor Day," said Lauren Cotten, bartender at Dockside Restaurant. "A lot of people are going back to school, but a lot of college students are returning to area campuses as well."

For now, restaurants still had time to prepare for Labor Day weekend, the last big weekend of a summer that seemed to have already ended in many places.

Reported by Kim Gebbia