Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown Businesses See Decreased Revenue

Statistics show that business in the Georgetown area is down, with many stores closing and others turning significantly less profit. But while Georgetown is not immune to the recession, owners and retailers have hope that business will pick up with students’ return to campus.

The Georgetown area had a net loss of 13 stores in 2009. Restaurant tax receipts for a single month in 2007 were almost as much as those for the whole first half of the year 2010.

“All business has been slow this year,” said Mauricio Sepulveda, co-owner of Los Cuates, a Mexican restaurant on Wisconsin Avenue that is popular among students. “We’re still doing OK, but not great compared to other years.”

Sepulveda added that prices of food have increased, increasing financial challenges for local restaurants. “I don’t want to raise my prices, I want to keep them low for students, but I may have to,” he said. “Lots of students used to come in on Friday and Saturday nights. Now we hardly see any.”

With campus’s proximity to businesses in the area, Georgetown students can make or break a business’s year. Even restaurants that still attract high numbers of students are suffering.

“Prices have gotten higher this year and some students are complaining,” said Velter Valenzuela, assistant manager at Qdoba on M Street. “The recession is a little bit of a problem, because people want to spend less money. Sometimes two people will come in and share one burrito.”

Despite the numbers, not all the trends are negative in Georgetown.

“Retailers are telling us that it has been tough in the recession but they’re feeling optimistic about the future,” said Nancy Miyahira, marketing director of the Georgetown Business Improvement District. “Definitely things are trending well. Since 2009, things have flipped. A lot of those places that were vacant last year you now see are slated to be filled this fall or next spring.”

Though 24 businesses have closed or are slated to close this year, the Georgetown neighborhood is looking to gain 39 new stores by the end of December, according to Miyahira.

“Our retailers are feeling like there’s energy in the neighborhood for retail again,” she said.

Urban Outfitters, which plans many of its events around the university schedule, has seen profits boosted in the past several years, according to Brynn Delcolli, manager at the trendy retailer.

“We have girls who come in three times a week, who know our shipment days,” she said. “We are consistently busy with students.”

The same is true even for local independent stores like Annie Creamcheese, a secondhand shop on M Street.

“Students and locals are extremely loyal,” said Buu Linh Topolsky, Annie Creamcheese’s manager. “Business has been good, there is nothing daunting about the economic atmosphere.”

Sweetgreen, which has seen profits increase 75 percent since the beginning of the year, reported a mixed year.

“Business was not as good as it is now that students are back,” said Alberto Hernandez, supervisor at Sweetgreen. “They are very loyal, and they come back every year.”

Smiling, he added, “And they always bring new students with them.”

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