July sales tax reports from Summit County and towns show signs that post-pandemic business recovery is well underway
Many business owners report that their revenue numbers are starting to stabilize
It’s not surprising to see large percentage increases and big jumps in the numbers when comparing sales tax reports to last year. When Summit County went on lockdown, businesses closed up shop — some as many as multiple months — meaning the same time period a year ago was mainly a lost opportunity to rake in revenue.
Because last year was unique, it’s not been a shock when businesses and towns have reported wide swings in sales tax collections compared to a year ago. However, in July, reports from the towns and county started singing a different tune. A few of the reports aren’t showing as big of a swing, and some people are predicting that this could be a sign that the local economy is stabilizing and getting back to normal.
Take, for example, Frisco. Comparing this past July to July 2020, the town’s collections were up about 14%. This seems to be on the lower end when examining how earlier months performed compared to 2020. In June, sales tax collections were up about 16%, in May they were up about 36%, in April they were up about 55% and in March they were up about 42%.
March, April and May were months when the community was either in lockdown or just coming out of tight restrictions. When examining months like January and February, the comparisons are a bit smaller and seem to be more realistic in terms of year-over-year growth. Comparing January 2021 to January 2020, sales tax collections were up about 10% and they were up about 8% in February.
Ste-v Day, owner of Smok N’ Bra in Frisco, said her store closed for three months shortly after the first confirmed case of COVID-19 was made in the county. Though she offered to-go orders for customers who already knew what kind of custom jewelry they wanted, she said she mostly got through this time by working two additional jobs.
This year, she said her numbers actually weren’t that much different because of the Pedestrian Promenade. Her business is located on Third Avenue just off of Main Street.
“I kinda got thrown out of the promenade,” Day said. “It took a lot of business away from me because it closed me out of it. Everyone wanted to stay on Main Street and no one wanted to get off of Main Street … so I feel like business was slower this July than July 2020.”
Had the promenade not been in place, Day’s business might not have suffered as much and could have been on the rebound sooner like other retail stores. Still, she says things are looking up. Day now just works two jobs and said that her local customers are what help keep her afloat.
This past July was prosperous in other areas of the county. Silverthorne saw a nearly 13% increase in sales tax collections for this month. Its lodging, food and liquor and online retail categories saw the most growth.
Chris Carran, owner of Locals Liquors in Silverthorne, said this month was busy for the store, which does good business with locals but also caters to tourists passing through. In fact, July is usually one of the best months of the year for the store, and Carran said she attributes that to the store’s prime location near Interstate 70 and U.S. Highway 6.
“We’re on the way to camping, we’re on the way to the Gore Range, we’re on the way to Green Mountain Reservoir, Dillon — It’s just (our) location. In the wintertime, we don’t have a ski resort in Silverthorne,” Carran said. “I would say, definitely, we’ve been impacted by the growth of the Silverthorne community also.”
Carran noted that while this past July was a strong month, she’s not seeing huge jump in year-over-year numbers like she saw during the pandemic. She said her revenue is starting to stabilize and she attributes this to post-pandemic recovery.
Dillon, Summit County and Breckenridge had some of the biggest swings for their July sales tax reports. Dillon reported a nearly 23% uptick in collections compared to last year, the second highest swing so far this year — second only to June, which had a 24% uptick. Summit County’s collections were up nearly 55% compared to last year.
Breckenridge also had a hefty swing. According to a Breckenridge Town Council work session packet from Sept. 28, the town’s July net taxable sales are up 37% compared to last year.
Michele Powell, owner of Breck Kidz in Breckenridge, said this past July was a record-breaking month in the seven years she’s owned her store. July is typically her highest-performing month of the year, and this time frame was still successful last year thanks to online sales. Even so, Powell said she’s starting to see revenue level out.
“2020 was actually not a terrible year for me either, but I do think we are having more consistent sales numbers each month,” Powell said.
It’s good news that many businesses are starting to get on track after so many challenges last year, but that’s not to say that owners aren’t still feeling ongoing pains. Supply chain issues and the local labor shortage are still top of mind for many local owners.
“I just hope that the community is starting to strive,” Day said. “It’s been tough for everybody but I feel like we’re all helping each other and hopefully we’ll all make it through.”
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