Total sales at Edgewater Mall dropped 700 thousand dollars the weekend of Black Spring Break last year, compared with the same weekend the year before.
But merchants say much of the loss that weekend was because the mall closed three hours early on Saturday. The mall shut down early because customers and store employees got stuck in all the traffic congestion.
Store managers are expecting a busy weekend during this year's Black Spring Break. Some are ordering extra stock and making plans to have more employees on duty. Everyone is hoping there won't be a repeat of the traffic nightmare that forced Edgewater Mall to close its doors early last year.
"The mall plans to be open regular business hours Friday, Saturday and Sunday."
The manager of Edgewater Mall wants to avoid a repeat of last year when a traffic nightmare paralyzed the mall and interrupted what had been a busy Saturday. Byron Banks says better traffic control around the shopping center should help.
"All of the entrances on Highway 90 will be barricaded with signage pointing to Eisenhower. So, people will go to Eisenhower and go north and then any of the entrances to the mall on Eisenhower will be open."
Mike Woten is stocking up for Black Spring Break.
"This is Spring Break merchandise," he said as he opened a carton of designer shorts.
Business at his "Sports Avenue" store tripled that weekend compared to the year before. He's counting on even better business this year. \
"I think when you're in business you have to try and get the most out of what you can. We look at it in a positive outlook that it's going to bring revenue to our business. The traffic was the major issue at the mall last year. And we're just going to take a positive posture toward this and try to make the best we can," said Woten.
One big change in the mall's planning for Spring Break involves the south parking lot. Last year, that area was a popular gathering spot for the Spring Breakers. This year, the parking lot will be closed off and used as a staging area for law enforcement.
Expected traffic congestion is on the minds of merchants at neighboring Edgewater Village.
Sporting goods store manager, Dan Hunter, is president of the merchant's association. He's counting on traffic flowing more smoothly than last year.
"Even Saturday afternoon, as of about four or five in the afternoon, you couldn't even get through the parking lot hardly to do anything. I mean there were cars almost parked in the driveway part of our parking lot. So, it was just a nightmare. I think this year is going to be a whole lot better."
Merchants in and near the mall, are counting on it.