Welcome back students: 'December's just not a great month'

Welcome back students: 'December's just not a great month' »Play Video
A shopper visits Simply Cycles, one of the businesses in the vicinity of the University of Oregon campus that says sales decline when classes are not in session.

EUGENE, Ore. - Business was down last month at Simply Cycle at 13th Avenue and High Street, west of the University of Oregon campus

"Three-quarters, at least," said Tom Carney at Simply Cycle. "December's just not a great month for bike shops."

Carney said Simply Cycle relies mostly on student foot traffic.

"It gets slow," he said. "That's the hard part, developing that into the business."

Local businesses near the University of Oregon campus feel the pinch when students are away during winter break.

Prince Puckler's ice cream shop southeast of campus closed for part of the break.

"We close down on the 24th of December, and we open on January 2," owner James Robertson said. "Students are gone. A lot of our employees are from out of state and go home."

The impact of college students on the economy of the town where they go to school can be immense.

In the annual "College Explorer" survery powered by Crux Research, college students wield $404 billion dollars in discretionary spending. Crux Reseach says students have on average $361 in discretionary spending per month.

The students in the survey spent most of their money on food, followed by automotive needs, like gas, and then apparel.

Arlyn Schaufler, the general manager for the Duck Store on campus, said business slowed during the holidays. Schaufler said Eugene residents should take advantage when the students leave for winter break.

"It's the best kept secret," he said. "There's lots of parking. There's just not the hustle and bustle of 25,000 students on campus."

Monday was the first day of the winter quarter, and business is already on the upswing.

"We're just small business owners trying to make a living," Carney said. "We do the best we can."