Start of school year boosts retail sales

Local hotels and stores experienced an influx of business from another incoming freshmen class at Eastern New Mexico University this weekend.

Hotels and store owners said they expect and prepare for this crowd every year, usually consisting of the families moving in students to the dormitories and the return of current ENMU students.

Spring enrollment is estimated to be at 5,800 students this year, according to ENMU officials.

Parin Kumar, manager of the Holiday Inn in Portales, said their hotel was booked over the weekend. She said they saw about 170 families occupy their 65 rooms within the course of a week.

"I'd say we see this (traffic from incoming students) every year but some years are slower than others," Kumar said. "For the most part, we're busier."

Caitlyne Drum with Super 8 in Portales, said about 10 to 15 rooms were occupied a night by ENMU students and their families last week.

"We expect the same crowd, roughly every year," Drum said.

A few ENMU parents mentioned they had to stay in rooms in Clovis because there was no occupancy in Portales.

Nanette Cantu, front desk clerk with Days Inn and Suites in Clovis, said based on conversations with occupants, she remembers a couple of parents talking to her about the move-in process at ENMU.

"There may have been more but there were only two hotel guests that stood out to me," Cantu said.

Amber Padilla, desk manager at Best Western Clovis Inn and Suites, said she didn't recognize too many occupants from ENMU but said they did receive business from the Curry County Fair and their regular guests such as construction workers.

Portales Wal-Mart assistant manager, Brad Powell, said they count on incoming students every year.

"It does us good and we like to think we do them good," Powell said.

He said ENMU students purchase everything from fans, bedding, computers, school supplies, ramen noodles, refrigerators and hangers.

"We sell all the stereotypical college stuff," Powell said. He added they see a large amount of foot traffic from ENMU students for about three weeks before school starts.

"It's significant, we prepare for it every year and order extra heavy," Powell said.

Clovis Big Lots manager Phyllis Broeder said employees saw ENMU parents buying essential dorm items and school supplies Saturday morning.

Local restaurants also felt the financial impact from incoming students this weekend.

"We always get busy when students are back in town," said Lisa Ferguson, manager at the Sonic restaurant in Portales. "You can tell right away because we were busy with customers from move in day at ENMU all weekend."

Portales Taco Box employees said they also had busy lunch and dinner hours over the weekend, being near the Curry Hall dormitory.

Ashley Flores, server and manager at the Cattle Baron in Portales, said the restaurant did well Sunday and Monday and attributed some of that business to the ENMU crowd.

"On Sunday, our slowest night, we had a $4,000 day," Flores said, adding she noticed a lot of business coming from families.

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