Another mad month for Summit County sales as March numbers find towns all up — again |

Another mad month for Summit County sales as March numbers find towns all up — again

A driver passes the Residence Inn by Marriot at 600 S. Ridge St. in Breckenridge in this Summit Daily file photo. According to the town's latest financial report, estimated sales taxes from lodging in Breckenridge were up over 12 percent compared to March 2017.
Eli Pace /

If Summit County’s towns are going to depart from a years-long trend of record-breaking growth in sales tax receipts, March wasn’t the month for it.

Compared to March 2017, Breckenridge, Frisco, Dillon and Silverthorne all finished ahead. For the third straight month, Dillon led the way percentage wise while Silverthorne saw the lowest rate of growth. In between, Breckenridge and Frisco also saw significant growth in March, and all four remain up at least 7.2 percent year to date.

The Breckenridge bull

Breckenridge does significantly more business than any other Summit County town, with estimated net taxable sales over $233 million through the first three months of 2018.

In March, Breckenridge was up 11.4 percent compared to March 2017, putting the town 10.5 percent ahead through the first three months of the year compared to January-March last year.

So far, the lodging sector has posted over $82 million in taxable sales this year, and the sector was up 12.8 percent in March compared to the same month last year, which town finance officials have attributed to an increase in the number of monthly returns filed. At the same time, Breckenridge is blaming a slight decline in the utility sector on decreases in gas and electric billings, in addition to warming temperatures.

In Breckenridge, retail was up 13.6 percent compared to March 2017, while restaurants and bars were up 12.7 percent, and grocery and liquor was up 7.7 percent in March over the same month last year due to increased sales, according to the town.

Construction has been somewhat of a teeter-totter so far 2018, down 10.1 percent in January, up 6 percent in February and down 1.52 percent again in March.

Overall, Breckenridge is trending almost $1 million over 2018 budgeted revenues in the excise fund with estimated sale tax receipts coming in $636,000 over budget and $627,000 over the previous year, according to the town’s latest financial report.

Year to date, retail, restaurants and bars, lodging, grocery and liquor are all trending more than 10 percent ahead compared to the first three months of 2017, while construction, utility and other have been off the pace.

Frisco’s rosy financials

In Frisco, the town’s three biggest sectors are still chugging along, and Frisco saw 7.8 percent growth in its taxable sales in March compared to March 2017, the third straight month the town has seen growth above 6 percent.

As a result, Frisco is trending 8 percent ahead through the first three months of 2018 in a year-to-date comparison.

Like other Summit County towns, most sectors in Frisco saw growth in March, including arts and crafts (126.5 percent), hotels and inns (16.7 percent) vacation rentals (13.9 percent), recreation (11.1 percent), liquor (9.2 percent), gifts (8.8 percent), marijuana (4.3 percent) and office (0.5 percent).

At the same time, health and beauty (-12.7 percent), home improvement (-9.3 percent) and utility (-6.8 percent) sectors were behind their totals.

Despite those losses, however, Frisco’s big three most impactful sectors — general retail (15.5 percent), restaurants (7.7 percent) and grocery (5.9 percent) — were also up month over month, and March came as the third straight month they have been that way, which comes as good news considering those businesses account for the majority of Frisco’s sales tax receipts.

Dramatic rises in Dillon

Dillon continues to see blockbuster growth through 2018, posting double-digit, month-over-month gains for the third straight month, putting the town farther ahead, by percentage, than any others in Summit County.

After seeing wild growth in January (31.1 percent) and February (15.3 percent) Dillon was 17.3 percent ahead in March, leaving the town up 21.1 percent year to date.

Finance director Carri McDonnell tied some of the growth directly to new businesses that opened within the last year but were vacant the year before that.

With that in mind, McDonnell said she expects the growth to level off somewhat in May, when one of the businesses opened last year, and the town could see reductions in the wild growth rates in July and November because new businesses opened in those months last year as well, boosting the town’s sales tax receipts.

“We’ve had some changes,” McDonnell said, while adding the town has also benefited from a strong economy, and March was another big month for a lot of local businesses. Also, March will be the last month that the town sees a boost of the ice castles, which were taken down the second week of March.

Silverthorne success

Silverthorne had its best month of the year in March with estimated sales taxes eclipsing $1 million. However, that was only 1.9 percent more than what the town saw in March 2017 after posting much more dramatic rises in January (8.2 percent) and February (12.9 percent).

Year to date, Silverthorne is up 7.2 percent, and the town has posted growing sales taxes in month-to-month comparisons in 47 out of the last 51 months dating back to 2014.

In March, sales at the outlets were up 9.6 percent, while the service industries were up over $142,000, or 105 percent compared to March 2017. Lodging (8.85 percent) and food and liquor (5 percent) also saw gains while consumer retail (-2.5 percent) and building retail (-9.5 percent) were down compared to March 2017.

Still, consumer retail and the outlets tied in March for being Silvethorne’s highest sales tax categories, each accounting for 23 percent of the month’s taxable sales.

On the horizon, Silvethorne could see a boost from last week’s opening of Christy Sports in the outlet mall and a late April homecoming for local Olympians and Paralympians, in which stores at the outlets saw 30-38 percent increases in sales the day of the event, according to the town.

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