Spring breakers leave money behind at stores, restaurants

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Mississippi Gulf Coast Spring Break weekend brought a lot of new shoppers to the Underground Station at Edgewater Mall.

"It was people from all over. I know people from Mobile came in here and shopped," said Lorenzo Cummings, a co-manager of the store.

And many who walked in to try on shoes and clothes spent money.

"We actually did awesome. We actually did way better than last year, as far as sales go," said Cummings. "Some was buying like the cargo shorts. They were buying the Levi's shoes, low cut shoes, because it was hot outside."

Edgewater Mall officials said the heavy spring break traffic along Highway 90 didn't steer people away from shopping. Merchants saw a mix of spring breakers and local shoppers.

"We did note that on Friday, lots of bags in hands. They're coming in buying shoes and clothes. They want to be seen and have fun," said Michelle Rogers, Edgewater Mall Marketing Manager. "A good example is Bonefish Grill. They noted that on Friday night, they had a several thousand dollar increase over the same Friday night last year."

Across the road, the Subway sandwich shop at Edgewater Village also saw a big boost in weekend business.

"Sales this year was tremendously up compared to last year. Because last year, they closed access off on Eisenhower Drive for some reason or another. But this year, it was open. So it was great. It was up 50 percent and a tremendous turnout," said the owner Charlton Davis.

Davis said the event was more organized this year. It was also concentrated close-by at the Coast Coliseum and there was plenty of parking at Edgewater Village.

"Hopefully, Spring Break will come back and it will be another major event that we can plan for each year," said Davis.

Coast hotels also saw an impact from Spring Break. The Executive Director of the Mississippi Hotel and Lodging Association Linda Hornsby said six properties had an increase in business, mostly those around the Coast Coliseum.  She estimated that between 300 to 400 rooms were booked, mainly for Saturday night.

The Biloxi Police Department will conduct a study to gauge the economic impact of Spring Break 2011 on coast businesses.  That study should be finished in a few months.

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