Businesses in Tucson, Ariz., are bracing for the influx of snowbirds that annually migrate to the area during the winter months, according to a report in the Arizona Daily Star.
“A wave comes in after Thanksgiving and stays until early March,” said Stephen Happel, an economics professor at Arizona State University.
Happel said snowbirds have a major impact on local businesses, including restaurants, primarily buffets, big box retail stores like Kmart and Target, along with recreational vehicle dealerships.
Beaudry RV estimates that about 7,500 customers will be coming through Tucson in the coming snowbird season. That number drops to around 4,500 consumers during the off-season.
“Not only do we have the right climate, but I think we have areas of interest that are unusual – richness of Indian heritage and the Spanish and Mexican flair,” said Linda Smith, customer relations manager for Beaudry RV.
In Arizona alone, Happel estimates anywhere from half a billion to a billion dollars will be spent by snowbirds.
“We have done surveys, and on average a couple would spend $1,500 to $2,000 a month on living expenses,” he said.
These estimates apply to winter residents who stay in RV parks and do not include those who buy homes in Arizona.
Far Horizons Tucson Village, a 55-and-older RV park offering 514 sites, is at peak occupancy during the winter.
“In January, we will have about 1,000 people here in the village,” said JoAnn Sanford, manager of the park. “Our last month’s total was 127 people.”
The business increases so much in the winter that RV parks generally have to order extra supplies and hire additional help.