Although statistics are hard to come by, there's no doubt the madness of Black Friday and the holiday shopping season in general are critical to the tax base at Lake of the Ozarks.
The overall impact means better services for residents and visitors. Major retailers and the mom and pop shops throughout the area are poised to welcome the thousands of shoppers who will brave the cold and long lines to find the best buys at the lake.
Despite the holiday shopping season falling in the "off season" part of the lake-area calendar, the sales tax collected during these crucial months add up to significant numbers. Counties and municipalities depend heavily on the sales tax revenue generated from the holiday shopping season.
In 2012 from Oct. through Feb., Camden County collected $3,647,847.88 in sales tax.
Retail sales in Osage Beach during November (actually received in January) ranked sixth highest among all twelve months of 2013.
Historically, retail sales in November are higher than most off-season months, but fall short of the seasonal months. In Lake Ozark, it's virtually the same.
Retail sales for November over the last several years ranked about sixth compared to other months of the year, but are higher than other off-season months.
As with municipalities, the Tri-County Lodging Association and Convention and Visitor Bureau don't have specific lodging information relative to Black Friday.
TCLA Executive Director Jim Divincen says while it's speculative information, he estimates that 20 to 40 percent of shoppers could stay overnight in the lake area. For residents living outside of a 50-mile radius, the TCLA uses a $50 per person, per day economic impact rating. That adds up to significant revenue during the shoulder season when visitors to the lake aren't heading out on the water.
CVB marketing efforts include promoting the lake area not only as a great place to visit during the holiday season for a winter getaway but as a shopping destination, drawing visitors who not only spend money in stores but visit restaurants and other venues while at the lake.
The city of Camdenton could also see a spike in sales tax this holiday season. According to City Administrator Brenda Colter, the sales tax is currently up a little under 2 percent above last year's sales tax at this time. As of now, it is 1.9 percent higher than last year. To date, the city's general sales tax is $631,910 [July 2013 to Nov. 2013].
The increase in the number of national retailers at the lake has increased the shopping options on Black Friday and changed the traditions of some who no longer spend the holiday at home.
On Thursday, families will sit around their dining room tables, eat turkey and cranberry sauce, tell each other what they are thankful for and eat a piece of pumpkin pie. As soon as they eat the last crumb of pie, they will formulate a plan — not just any plan, their Black Friday shopping plan.
Page 2 of 2 - While the lake area is home to many stores which will draw in holiday shoppers, a major draw is the Osage Beach Premium Outlets.
"Our After-Thanksgiving Weekend Sale featuring Midnight Madness is our biggest sales weekend of the year. Each year we welcome thousands of shoppers to the center to officially kick off the holiday shopping season, so we certainly see a good bump in sales during this weekend," Sherrie Coffey, Director of Marketing at Osage Beach PRemium Outlets said. "This has been a strong year for our company and we certainly hope it continues. We are cautiously optimistic and believe our center is well positioned for this environment. Holiday sales at Osage Beach Premium Outlets are well-known and draw people from a wide radius to find amazing deals."
Many lake-area residents and visitors have made it a tradition to start their holiday shopping at the Osage Beach Premium Outlets on Black Friday. According to Coffey, most of the shoppers that come to the outlet mall on Thanksgiving night are locals, but as the weekend continues many visitors from Kansas City, St. Louis, Quincy, Ill. and more make the lake their shopping destination.