Ice Cream Sales Freeze

In this brutal Cambridge winter, local ice cream shops say the chill in sales is starting to burn.

“I would say that ice cream sales go down by an average of about 30 percent every year,” said Fernando Strohmeyer, an employee at Toscanini’s, a coffee and ice cream shop in Harvard Square. Most other ice cream places in the Square also said their business takes a downturn when it gets cold. Toscanini’s, Herrell’s and Ben & Jerry’s all reduce their hours of operation and cut back on employees come winter-time.

“In the summer we can have three or four people a shift,” said Jesse McDad, an employee at Ben & Jerry’s. Currently, the store only has one or two people at the counter at any given time.

In the face of declining ice cream sales, many of the shops have taken to selling hot drinks in order to supplement revenue. The general opinion, however, seems to be that this effort rarely helps.

“Maybe [hot drinks] help business a little,” said Herrell’s employee Lucy Ray.

While the general trend seems to be that the colder it gets, the less incoming cash flow, the ice cream business in the Square is not totally dismal.

“We have such a good business in ice cream cakes and quarts that business does not decrease nearly as much as one might expect,” said Baskin-Robbins employee David Cavallo.

Some customers don’t seem to mind the cold weather. Though the concentration of people ordering ice cream is noticeably less than in the summer, those who did brave the chill seemed happy with their decision.

Glenn Pettit, a regular Toscanini’s patron who sought out a scoop despite yesterday’s sub-zero wind chill, characterized ice cream as, “one of those things you have to get your fix of.”

Shipley Salewski, a local student, enjoyed a hot fudge sundae at Toscanini’s last week. She said it helps calm the stress of studying.

“I buy the same amount ’cause it’s exam time,” she said.