Summer season heats up business for area retailers

Gloria Miller, right, assistant manager at Anthony’s Ladies Apparel in Colony Plaza and Village of Osceola Hills residemt, helps Arlene Kaplan, of the Village of St. Charles, with clothing combinations.

Tom Van de Bussche stopped by the Colony Plaza T & D Patio & Pool Wednesday in search of goggles and nose clips for his visiting grandchildren.

The Village of St. Charles resident wanted to buy something for them to use at the pool in his house.

Warmer temperatures and summer holidays have shoppers out buying Father’s Day gifts for dad, new swimsuits to wear by the pool and items to help them enjoy the weather. Along with T & D Patio & Pool, other local businesses, such as Village Cycles and Anthony’s Ladies Apparel, see a profitable summer ahead.

T & D Patio & Pool sees an uptick in business during the summer, when local residents come in to get their pool water tested or buy pool toys for their visiting grandchildren.

The pandemic has yet to change that for the upcoming summer season.

“So far, we are having a good year, and I think we will continue to have a good summer,” said Taylor Parker, manager of the T & D in Colony Plaza

U.S. retail spending dropped 8.3% in March and 16.4% in April, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Although it’s too early to tell what will happen in the summer, the The Florida Retail Federation is optimistic, said Scott Shalley, president and CEO of the FRF.

“Early data shows that consumers are growing in confidence and anxious to get out and return to normal lives,” Shalley said. “ ... So far, since the state has begun reopening, we’ve seen strong foot traffic in Florida stores, and we’re grateful to have the support.”

In the summer, Parker usually does about 230 water tests a week and does more pool water tests. In the winter, she does about 170 tests a week and mostly does it for spas.

Parker also has more transactions in the summer — about 30 to 35 a day. In the winter, her transaction numbers a day are in the teens or 20s, she said.

“I think it will continue to stay busy,” Parker said. “People are bored trying to stay home or they’re using the pools more.”

At Anthony’s Ladies Apparel in Colony Plaza, business slows in the summer but assistant manager Gloria Miller said not too much because the store has a big following.

The store sells women’s clothing such as tops, dresses and swimwear. Bathing suits are a popular item at the store for summer.

Once it reopened after closing due to COVID-19, many customers have come back excited to shop in the store again and are still coming in.

“I feel confident we will have a great summer this year,” Miller said.

Summer also is a time when families celebrate dad.

Father’s Day is June 21 this year. Shoppers are expected to spend about $17 billion for the holiday with a consumer spending average of $148.58, according to the National Retail Federation.

Ellen’s Hallmark Shop in La Plaza Grande sees a lot of foot traffic for Father’s Day.

Though it’s not as busy as Mother’s Day, the store sees a lot of sales on cards, said JoAnn Muraida, staff member at Ellen’s.

The store slows in the summer, but Father’s Day and anniversaries help business pick up. Staff see a lot of people buying cards to celebrate wedding anniversaries since summer is a popular time for people to get married.

At The Villages Golf Cars, summer business began to pick up in about 2017, said sales manager Christopher Laufersky.

“We have seen that curve go from a drastic dip in rental and sales business, to a very minimal dip,” he said. “Our service business has also increased in the summer months of recent years.”

Usually there is a decrease in the rental business and golf cars sales and service because there are fewer people here. Laufersky believes business in the summer has increased because of the growth of the full-time residents and the use of golf cars for traveling throughout the community, he said.

Since COVID-19 restrictions started easing in the state, The Villages Golf Cars has had an increase in foot traffic and business as residents feel more comfortable being out in the community, Laufersky said.

Village Cycles saw a boom in business during the stay-at-home order. Many people were going bicycling for recreation during the pandemic, and Owner Mark Hall believes the momentum will continue into the summer.

When the business first started in The Villages 18 years ago, summer was a slow time. Over the years, business has become steady during those months. 

“I think folks are excited to get outside after the lockdown and are really excited to get out and stay moving and we are really exited to be a part of it,” Hall said.

Staff writer Summer Jarro can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5404, or summer.jarro@thevillagesmedia.com.