UA students mean business for Tuscaloosa merchants - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

UA students mean business for Tuscaloosa merchants

(Source: WBRC) (Source: WBRC)
TUSCALOOSA, AL (WBRC) -

Many University of Alabama students will return to Tuscaloosa starting Friday. That marks the start of the "official" on campus move-in period, which runs through Sunday.

Last year's enrollment at The University of Alabama was just less than 35,000 students, which was a new record for UA. For many local businesses, students equal extra spending.

Numbers from a 2011 UA study, provided by the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama, showed the average student spent about $9,735 per year in off-campus spending.

This number does not include on-campus spending for things like lodging or books. Multiplied by 35,000 students, that number grows to approximately $340,000,000.

Tracey Snider with the Alabama Express store on the Strip says her business definitely feels the influence of student spending, especially right now.

"We see a big influx of the students. In the past couple of years, we've really tried to listen to what the students want, and so we've tried to cater some of our merchandise to what we know that they're wanting or they're looking for," Snider said.

Nicole Richardson is the mother of a UA freshman who is coming to Tuscaloosa from Northern California. She said bringing her son to school is practically like setting up an additional residence.

"There's an entire list that you have to go through for the dorm. Between bedding and bath stuff and everyday things like shampoo, we've had to purchase everything here," Richardson said.

For many Tuscaloosa merchants, like Snider, the return of students signals the start to a busy few months, with football season immediately following.

"We're really having to get everything in now, so that it's here and ready for when the students come in...and then when the first of football season starts," Snider said.

Fall classes begin at UA on Wednesday, August 20.

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