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Winter's Balmy Arrival Heats Up Village Business Traffic

The unusual warm weather since the holiday week is making this January a bit more profitable than last year.

Warm, nearly balmy winter days are helping Babylon Village shop keepers gain in sales and profit this month, as the sunshine is proving attractive to shoppers who enjoy strolling Main Street and Deer Park Avenue.

While the last week has brought a dip in temperatures, from the 50 to 60 degree days in the first week of the month, and another 50-degree Friday last week, and frigid wind chills in the past week, retailers are reporting more robust shopping activity than usual.

Most importantly there haven’t been more than a few quick flurries seen compared to last January, which was Long Island’s snowiest on record.

They key to avoiding snow shoveling, says Plesser’s Appliance proprietor Alan Howard, is to buy a snow blower. It's also seems to work as a magic charm in keeping snow away, he notes.

Last year Plesser's did not have any snow blowers to sell as the year before had brought little of the white stuff. But after last January Howard made sure to grab a half dozen from the warehouse this year.

And while he has sold a few, there hasn’t been quite the demand as last year, he notes.

“You know that saying. If you don’t want it to snow then go out and buy a snow blower,” Howard said with a grin. He’s smiling because while the snow blowers aren’t a big sales item, the warm weather is drawing more shoppers into the electronic and applicance store.

“We’re seeing a positive impact from this warm weather. More people come out and walk around,” he explained, adding it hasn’t hurt that having the New York’s Giants football team is in the playoffs.

“That is helping television sales and while we always see an up tick around football time, it’s more than just that,” he said. "If someone's having a football party and they've got a small screen they'll seriouslyt think about upgrading for the company," he added.

Jon Taylor, proprietor of Village Art & Frame Gallery, and chamber officer, says foot traffic in the business district is definitely up over a year ago.

“It’s helping sales because when it’s a nice day people do want to get out of the house,” he said.

But warm weather isn’t always welcomed by retailers. As Wally Levins, owner of Coastal Island Treasures, pointed out, the warmer than usual holiday weeks hindered his Christmas week sales a bit.

“I think the colder weather puts holiday shoppers in a better mood in terms of the season so I think sales dipped a bit because of those temperatures,” he said. It was 56 and 57 degrees on December 21 and 22, and then nearly 50 degrees on December 27, which fell in the usual busy post-holiday and return sales time.

“Yet the warmer weather in early January has very helpful for stores and typically warmer weather can’t be anything but good for village businesses,” added Levins.

A few village restaurant managers noted that winter weather typically doesn’t hurt their business unless it’s an extreme snowfall that keeps drivers locked down at home. Both Horace & Sylvia’s Publick House and the Argyle Grill & Tavern reported the typical patron activity for January.

Owners at the Tidewater Grill  & Tavern, which opened just three weeks ago, say the warmer weather has definitely been helping with initial patron traffic. And it’s also helping them get out and meet other storeowners as they shop for décor for the restaurant.

“We’re having fun walking around ourselves and seeing everything in the village and meeting people,” said Joann Silipo, the fiancée of owner Joseph Sgambati.

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