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Richmond Retail Sales Declined During Redskins Camp



If the Redskins training camp boosted Richmond’s financial fortunes, it isn’t showing up in early economic indicators released by the state.

Retail sales in Richmond during August, the month in which the bulk of the camp was held, declined 6.8 percent compared with the same month last year.

Despite the Redskins counting 165,000 visitors entering training camp gates during the run here, the August figures are worse than Virginia and Richmond’s neighboring localities fared: Retail sales for the state fell just 1.7 percent, while Henrico and Chesterfield counties fell 2.2 and 4.7 percent respectively.

The data includes, but doesn’t offer a breakdown of, all sales within a given locality, including at restaurants.

During the training camp, many restaurant owners complained that the camp had done little to increase sales, with only a nearby McDonald’s, bar and diner reporting a significant increase in customers. At the time, Mayor Dwight Jones’ spokeswoman, Tammy Hawley, called the accounts anecdotal and said the city would get a fuller picture of the camp’s impact on the city as economic data was released.

Interviewed last month when retail sales data was released for July, the last week of which marked the opening of the camp, Hawley said she was referring to “a handful of data -- not just this data in a vacuum.”

Hawley said the city anticipated having that analysis “compiled and analyzed by early October or November.”

The city built the Redskins training camp at no cost to the team. The project was financed by the city, with the total price tag coming to $11 million. Nearly half of that will be covered by a sponsorship deal with Bon Secours Richmond Health System, which bought naming rights to the camp as part of a complex deal that includes a $33,000-a-year lease from the city of the former Westhampton School, which the hospital chain had been eyeing for an expansion of its nearby St. Mary’s Hospital. In a prime spot for retail development, the school is assessed at $7.5 million.

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