Businesses fear revenue loss from drop in student population

OKTIBBEHA COUNTY,Miss. (WCBI) – College towns could soon feel the pinch of having students stay at home.

The biggest retailers and the smallest “mom and pops” all have one thing in common — they need money to stay in business.

The loss of MSU students means the loss of a lot of customers, and that has business owners facing an uncertain future.

“We don’t really know yet. We want to remain optimistic that although campus is closed you do have a lot of students who do live in this general area,” said owner Barton Dinkins.

He said there’s usually a-lot of foot traffic from students. But with majority of them possibly returning home, sales could suffer.

“The local economy, while it might slow down some hopefully, we can get everyone safe and keep business rolling,” said Dinkins.

For Dinkins, the loss of students could also mean a loss of staff.

“We’ve told them if you feel safer at home, please stay at home, or if you need to come back and work you can,” said Dinkins.

It’s the same reality for CoffeeHouse 929.

“I wouldn’t say we are the skeleton crew, but we are definitely minimizing the number of staff we have at one time. I asked those that are students if they wanted more time off and some of them wanted more time off. But it’s okay because it’ll help me level out the playing field a little bit in the schedule,” said general manager Jonette Shurden.

Shurden said two-thirds of her workers are students.

“In a small business, it becomes increasingly difficult as time goes on trying to gauge what’s going to happen. Like if we’ll have a pop if going to happen and have an influx of customers and not have enough inventory,” said Shurden.

Mayor Lynn Spruill encouraged citizens to support their local businesses.

“Food and beverage and sales tax is critical to our economy and to our city as we go forward and do the things that we need to do. It’s going to be painful but hopefully, it will end sooner than later,” said Spruill.

For now, owners and residents are just taking it one day at a time.

“I’m going to eat out at least every day. I’m going to patronize as many of our restaurants that I can. Obviously going to shop locally as necessary. We just need to stay prudent and be calm and we need to go about our lives as normally as possible,” said Spruill.

Mayor Spruill said with the possibility of a loss in sales revenue, the city will continue to monitor its budget and make adjustments if necessary.

Categories: Coronavirus Information, Local News