Downtown Business Revenues Mostly Unaffected by Shifting City Hall Hours
January 9, 2019
During the summer and fall of 2018, operations within Framingham’s Memorial Building (City Hall) were adjusted longer on Tuesdays (open until 7:00 pm) and shorter on Fridays (closing at 12:30 pm). Situated in the Central Business District, City Hall boasts a relatively large number of employees who can serve as key downtown business patrons.
Did the City’s adjusted operating hours impact patronage from City workers at downtown businesses?
In January 2019, Downtown Framingham Inc.’s Business Development Manager, Robert Mitchell, surveyed 40 random businesses across several industries in the Central Business District (Union Avenue, Concord Street, Irving Street, and Hollis Street) to investigate how the City’s adjusted operating hours impacted local business revenues. Specifically, did the shifting City Hall hours affect patronage levels by City workers at downtown businesses?
Downtown Framingham’s tight-knit business community is awash with greetings and personal stories. This densely populated, mixed-use area carries big-city benefits but retains the small-town feel of a well-connected community. Unlike big-box stores, downtown shop keepers take the time to build real relationships with their clients, learning about their families, jobs, and more. Most businesses can easily report who supports their businesses, including where their clients work and reside.
An overwhelming majority of businesses (90%) reported no change in business revenue; only one business reported lower revenues due to decreased business from City workers. Moreover, many businesses were unaware that the City’s operating hours had changed in the summer and fall of 2018.
90% of 40 respondents shared that there was zero impact upon their business revenues due to the City’s adjusted operating hours. These 36 business owners and managers shared that City employees usually don’t patronize their stores on a frequent basis, if at all. This response was most common for businesses that lie south of Route 135, who responded that they rarely see municipal workers.
Business industries reporting no change:
Apparel and accessories
Medical / Dentist
Financial – tax, insurance, and transfers
Convenience and grocery marts
Businesses near the Memorial Building that offer fast service, such as cafes and buffets, reported an uptick in revenues from City workers. 7.5% of respondents noted that City workers purchased items mostly before or after the traditional lunch period. Many of these same business owners and managers also shared that City workers increased their patronage levels after Framingham became a City in January 2018.
Business industries reporting a positive change:
15% of surveyed restaurants
33% of surveyed computer and telecommunications businesses
One business respondent, who chose to remain anonymous, reported a negative revenue impact based on reduced patronage from City workers during the summer and fall of 2018.
During the survey, businesses repeatedly stated that individuals who ran for top local government offices were frequent patrons during 2017 but rarely patronized their businesses after the November 2017 election.
All 40 business respondents are excited to continue serving the local community and local workers from other major employers, including the MetroWest Medical Center, for example. Many businesses are eager to regularly greet more City workers in their shops.
This reported was prepared by Robert Mitchell, Business Development Manager for Downtown Framingham, Inc. in collaboration with Courtney Thraen, Executive Director of Downtown Framingham, Inc.