February sales tax reports show business is booming in Summit County

Visitors and residents walk along Main Street in Breckenridge on Wednesday, Jan. 12.
Ashley Low/Summit Daily News archive

Summit County businesses saw large crowds and renewed interest over the winter season, and new sales tax reports have the numbers to prove it.

Breckenridge, Frisco, Silverthorne and Dillon released February sales tax revenue reports this month. The numbers show what many business owners have suspected over the winter season: Summit County is back and booming.

In Breckenridge, overall February sales tax revenue was up about 38% from February 2021 and up about 45% from February 2019. Silverthorne saw nearly a 24% rise over February 2021 and Frisco was up nearly 28%. Dillon saw the lowest jump in revenue, with a rise of just over 20% compared to February 2019.

Local business owners say the numbers reflect what they saw in dining rooms and store fronts.

“A lot more people are coming in,” said Haleigh Palmer, who owns Chocolate and Cashmere in Breckenridge. “When they did come in they were more curious and active as shoppers. Our sales are dramatically up, it’s true.”

Many of the towns saw especially high jumps in revenue in the retail sector. In Breckenridge, retail revenue as of February was up about 30% over 2021. In Silverthorne, consumer retail is up 31% and, in Frisco, retail is up 32%. Dillon does not provide data on sales tax revenue for specific industries.

Palmer suspects the jump in retail business may be a sign of shoppers’ renewed excitement in in-person connection after the pandemic removed public gathering spaces. Many of her customers come in the store without the intent to buy anything but instead wanting to chat with workers and learn more about Breckenridge.

“Often, I feel like we serve as a connection to the community and to Breckenridge itself,” Palmer said. “We always organize ourselves around what restaurants we recommend, where we send people to get the best drink in town … on any day at least 30% of the people that come in, that’s what they’re coming in for.”

Though not as high as retail, the local restaurant industry also saw a jump in revenue. For restaurants in Breckenridge, sales were up about 15%. In Silverthorne, food and liquor businesses are up nearly 28%, and in Frisco, restaurants are up 15%.

While restaurants saw an increase of business, they also suffered from staffing shortages that plagued local businesses during their busiest months.

Tanecia Spagnolia said her Silverthorne restaurant, Timberline Craft Kitchen & Cocktails, had to turn people away on some of its busiest days because of staffing issues.

“There were definitely times where we didn’t have enough people to meet the volume or the demand in the winter,” Spagnolia said.

Even with increased wages and housing owned by the restaurant, Spagnolia said she struggled to find people to work in the restaurant’s kitchens. As Summit County enters mud season, the crowds have died down quite a bit, so Spagnolia is focusing on staffing up for the summer.

While the sales tax revenue is a good indicator of how local businesses are faring, it’s also a reminder of the value of shopping local. The towns use the revenue to pay for programs that support people living in all parts of the county.

“The money stays in the community,” Palmer said.

The Summit County government did not send its February sales tax report before publication. This report will include the revenue numbers for businesses located outside of town boundaries.

This chart shows each town's sales tax collections for the month of February this year, last year and in 2020. Summit County government did not send its February sales tax report before deadline, which is why it's not included.
Jenna deJong/Summit Daily News

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