The impact of colleges and universities on local business 2020:

University of Colorado at Boulder


Colleges and universities are everywhere. Big cities, small towns, in every corner of the United States, there’s bound to be a degree-offering institution nearby. And, subsequently, a whole lot of students nearby as well.

There are an estimated 18 to 20 million students enrolled in public and private colleges in America today. And in many communities, those students make up a huge portion of the local economy.

In this groundbreaking study, we analyzed data at local businesses in Boulder to see what kind of impact major events during the school year at the University of Colorado has on local businesses.

NOTE: You can view other industries by selecting them from the dropdown at the top of each section in this report

The average year at local businesses in Boulder

Select an industry:

Before we examine major school year events like spring break and the college football season, let’s take a look at the year as a whole.

Annual sales at restaurants in Boulder from week-to-week.

#1 #2 #3 #4 #5

10/5/19

Football

5/10/19

Mother's Day Weekend

10/4/19

Football

5/9/19

4/12/19

Saturday Friday Friday Thursday Friday

Above are the top five days of the year for Boulder restaurants. This means that on these days, more total dollars were spent at restaurants in Boulder than on any other day of the year.

Before we examine major school year events like spring break and the college football season, let’s take a look at the year as a whole.

Annual sales at retail shops in Boulder from week-to-week.

#1 #2 #3 #4 #5

2/8/19

2/2/19

9/28/19

Football

8/10/19

8/9/19

Friday Saturday Saturday Saturday Friday

Above are the top five days of the year for Boulder retail shops. This means that on these days, more total dollars were spent at retail shops in Boulder than on any other day of the year.

Spring Break

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As the weather warms up and students get to take the week off, how are local restaurants around the University of Colorado impacted by spring break?

Do enough students leave town to see sales dip? Or do sales go up with an influx of vacationing students? We crunched the numbers to find out:

Avg. revenue: spring break Avg. transactions: spring break Avg. ticket price: spring break
-27%
vs avg day
-20%
vs avg day
-9%
vs avg day
-9%
vs avg day during March
-24%
vs avg day during March
+19%
vs avg day during March

During the week of spring break, restaurants in and around Boulder earned 28% less than an average day throughout the year, and 10% less than on an average day during the month of march.

 

Spring break was the number 43 week of the year for Boulder restaurants. Examine the chart above for a closer look at how much revenue went up or down throughout the week of spring break.

As the weather warms up and students get to take the week off, how are local retail shops around the University of Colorado impacted by spring break?

Do enough students leave town to see sales dip? Or do sales go up with an influx of vacationing students? We crunched the numbers to find out:

Avg. revenue: spring break Avg. transactions: spring break Avg. ticket price: spring break
+0%
vs avg day
+1%
vs avg day
+0%
vs avg day
+23%
vs avg day during March
-7%
vs avg day during March
+33%
vs avg day during March

During the week of spring break, retail shops in and around Boulder earned 0% more than an average day throughout the year, and 23% more than on an average day during the month of march.

 

March Madness

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March Madness is easily one of the biggest sporting events of the year across the United States. And you’d assume that would go double for college towns.

But does the fervor surrounding the Big Dance translate to big sales numbers for restaurants around the University of Colorado?

To find out, we analyzed revenue at restaurants in Boulder on game days for each round of the tournament and compared it to the average revenue those Boulder experienced on similar days of the week during the rest of the year.

Throughout the entire tournamment, on days when games were being played, restaurants earned 15% less than on similar days. Examine the chart above to see how revenue was impacted during each round of the tournament

March Madness is easily one of the biggest sporting events of the year across the United States. And you’d assume that would go double for college towns.

But does the fervor surrounding the Big Dance translate to big sales numbers for retail shops around the University of Colorado?

To find out, we analyzed revenue at retail shops in Boulder on game days for each round of the tournament and compared it to the average revenue those Boulder experienced on similar days of the week during the rest of the year.

Throughout the entire tournamment, on days when games were being played, retail shops earned 6% more than on similar days. Examine the chart above to see how revenue was impacted during each round of the tournament

Finals Week

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The end of spring semester is perhaps the most-anticipated time of the year for college students around the country.

When final exams are in the rear window, do students celebrate by spending at local businesses? Does the extra revenue of family members visiting to attend commencement make a difference?

Let's find out.

Avg. revenue: finals Avg. transactions: finals Avg. ticket price: finals
+8%
vs avg day
+13%
vs avg day
-4%
vs avg day
+1%
vs avg day during May
+10%
vs avg day during May
-8%
vs avg day during May

During the week of final exams, restaurants in and around Boulder earned 9% more than an average day throughout the year, and 1% more than on an average day during the months of April and May.

 

Finals week was the number 4 week of the year for Boulder restaurants. Examine the chart above for a closer look at how much revenue was impacted throughout the week of finals.

The end of spring semester is perhaps the most-anticipated time of the year for college students around the country.

When final exams are in the rear window, do students celebrate by spending at local businesses? Does the extra revenue of family members visiting to attend commencement make a difference?

Let's find out.

Avg. revenue: finals Avg. transactions: finals Avg. ticket price: finals
-5%
vs avg day
+3%
vs avg day
-7%
vs avg day
-8%
vs avg day during May
+7%
vs avg day during May
-14%
vs avg day during May

During the week of final exams, retail shops in and around Boulder earned 5% less than an average day throughout the year, and 9% less than on an average day during the months of April and May.

 

Finals week was the number 30 week of the year for Boulder retail shops. Examine the chart above for a closer look at how much revenue was impacted throughout the week of finals.

Back to School

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As summer ends and students come flocking back to the University of Colorado, do local restaurants see a major boost in sales?

Here's what we learned

Avg. revenue: back to school Avg. transactions: back to school Avg. ticket price: back to school
+11%
vs avg day
+19%
vs avg day
-6%
vs avg day
+36%
vs avg day during August
+26%
vs avg day during August
+7%
vs avg day during August

 

The week that classes began at the University of Colorado saw Boulder restaurants earn 12% more than an average day throughout the year, and 36% more than on an average day during the month of August.

Examine the chart above for a closer look at how much revenue at restaurants were impacted during the first week of classes at the University of Colorado. (Classes resumed on Monday, August 26)

As summer ends and students come flocking back to the University of Colorado, do local retail shops see a major boost in sales?

Here's what we learned

Avg. revenue: back to school Avg. transactions: back to school Avg. ticket price: back to school
+3%
vs avg day
-5%
vs avg day
+10%
vs avg day
+15%
vs avg day during August
-4%
vs avg day during August
+21%
vs avg day during August

 

The week that classes began at the University of Colorado saw Boulder retail shops earn 4% more than an average day throughout the year, and 15% more than on an average day during the month of August.

Examine the chart above for a closer look at how much revenue at retail shops were impacted during the first week of classes at the University of Colorado. (Classes resumed on Monday, August 26)

Football

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In most parts of the country, the college football season is the highlight of the year for students and locals alike.

But does college football fever in Boulder translate to big bucks for local businesses?

Let’s take a look at the numbers:

Avg. revenue:
Saturdays during football
Avg. transactions:
Saturdays during football
Avg. ticket price:
Saturdays during football
+13%
vs avg Saturday
+7%
vs avg Saturday
+6%
vs avg Saturday

On Saturdays throughout the college football season, Boulder restaurants earned 14% more than an average Saturday during the rest of the year.

In fact, college football was big enough for restaurants in Boulder that 5 of the top 10 days of the year were during college football weekends.

In most parts of the country, the college football season is the highlight of the year for students and locals alike.

But does college football fever in Boulder translate to big bucks for local businesses?

Let’s take a look at the numbers:

Avg. revenue:
Saturdays during football
Avg. transactions:
Saturdays during football
Avg. ticket price:
Saturdays during football
-10%
vs avg Saturday
-18%
vs avg Saturday
+9%
vs avg Saturday

On Saturdays throughout the college football season, Boulder retail shops earned 10% less than an average Saturday during the rest of the year.

In fact, college football was big enough for retail shops in Boulder that 1 of the top 10 days of the year were during college football weekends.

Of course, there is some overlap between the college football season and the holiday shopping season, which is also huge for local retail shops around the country.

Summmer and Holiday Breaks

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Finally, we wanted to look at the two times of year when school is out and many students head home during the break.

Do the summer and holiday breaks result in a dip in sales for restaurants around the University of Colorado?

Here’s what we learned:

Avg. revenue: summer break Avg. transactions: summer break Avg. ticket price: summer break
-2%
vs avg day
-5%
vs avg day
+3%
vs avg day

From the end of spring semester until the start of fall semester, Boulder restaurants earned 2% less than the annual average.

Avg. revenue: holiday break Avg. transactions: holiday break Avg. ticket price: holiday break
-14%
vs avg day
+4%
vs avg day
-18%
vs avg day

During the weeks of the holiday break, meanwhile, Boulder restaurants earned 15% less than the annual average.

Finally, we wanted to look at the two times of year when school is out and many students head home during the break.

Do the summer and holiday breaks result in a dip in sales for retail shops around the University of Colorado?

Here’s what we learned:

Avg. revenue: summer break Avg. transactions: summer break Avg. ticket price: summer break
+0%
vs avg day
-1%
vs avg day
+2%
vs avg day

From the end of spring semester until the start of fall semester, Boulder retail shops earned 1% more than the annual average.

Avg. revenue: holiday break Avg. transactions: holiday break Avg. ticket price: holiday break
-3%
vs avg day
-2%
vs avg day
+0%
vs avg day

During the weeks of the holiday break, meanwhile, Boulder retail shops earned 3% less than the annual average.

Methodology

Womply analyzed daily revenue for over 41,000 retail shops, 36,000 restaurants, 4,000 lodging places, and 2,200 bars, in all 50 states, for all 365 days of the 2019 calendar year. Businesses were only included in the analysis if they qualified as small businesses, Womply had a full year of transaction history, and the business recorded multiple transactions per day, on average.

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