Breckenridge to create business index to monitor trends in sales |

Breckenridge to create business index to monitor trends in sales

Jane Stebbins

BRECKENRIDGE<Breckenridge financial officials hope to copy a business index model created by Vail to more quickly determine how events in town affect retailers1 bottom lines.Currently, the only way the town can gauge the effectiveness of an event is to wait six weeks until the state returns sales tax revenues to the town. That lag time has made it difficult for the Breckenridge Resort Chamber (BRC) and town officials to evaluate events and plan for the future.Breckenridge town council members gave town Financial Director Judy Ferris the go-ahead Tuesday to encourage businesses to voluntarily submit gross sales figures at the end of special events such as Ullr Fest, the International Snowsculpting Championships, spring break and Christmas.Council members debated whether the information gathered from such reports would be of any benefit, particularly if the data later failed to correlate with state figures. A lesson Vail officials learned was not to expect index information to correlate with other information the town receives.3To date, Vail has not been able to cross-reference index data with other types of issued reports, Ferris wrote in a report to council. 3The index is intended to be a separate tool, comparable with other index results. Gross revenue was selected as the basis, as it is the most readily available form of data.3Do a test and see if it correlates, said Breck Mayor Sam Mamula. 3If the error rate is 5 or 10 percent, we can tolerate that. If it1s any higher, it doesn1t do us any good.BRC Executive Director Corry Mihm said if the data gathering merely means they1d have sales tax revenue data two or three weeks earlier, it might provide only marginal benefits.Council members agreed compiling such information for a particular month might not be as valuable as information gathered for a particular time period, such as Presidents Day Weekend, because many holidays don1t fall in the same week every year.3What we should do is compare different periods of time, Mihm said. 3That way, we can say Osnowsculpting had this kind of an impact this year compared to snowsculpting last year.1Mamula noted many long-time merchants and restaurateurs have years of such data collected and they use it to schedule employees during peak times and predict how sales will go during different times of the year.Vail officials said they learned five lessons from their attempt to gather such data.Chief among them was merchant participation. Of the 75 businesses that agreed to participate, an average of 68<and not always the same ones<actually have stuck with it. To address that, Vail officials decided to limit participation to five businesses in the lodging, retail and restaurant sectors, and only include those that have been in business for two to five years.Breckenridge officials said they didn1t like those limitations, as it would preclude long-time businesses with extensive knowledge about spending trends.Another lesson Vail officials learned was despite the goal to get sales statistics sooner, it still takes two to three weeks for businesses to get the information from merchants, and it takes frequent reminders to get business owners to submit the data.3We want to learn from the Vail model, but make sure it works for the town, Ferris said. 3It1s not just a shorter lag time (between the volunteer reports and state revenue returned to the town), but to better predict how events impact businesses.

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