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November sales tax data shows mixed impacts of COVID-19 restrictions on businesses

Photo taken at Dillon Dam Brewery on Wednesday, Nov. 18. On Nov. 22, Summit County moved to level red, which prohibited indoor restaurant dining.
Photo by Taylor Sienkiewicz / tsienkiewicz@summitdaily.com

Sales tax revenue continues to gauge some of the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on various business sectors across the county. In November, there was a mix of increases and decreases in sales tax revenue with Silverthorne, Breckenridge and Frisco showing fairly modest growth in year-over-year revenue, while Dillon and Summit County saw a decline.

Effects on certain business sectors vary from town to town as well. While all restaurants were ordered to close to in-person dining on Nov. 22, Frisco’s restaurant category was slightly up for sales tax revenue for the month, while Breckenridge’s restaurant and bar sector took a sharp downturn.

In Silverthorne, sales taxes in November of 2020 compared with November 2019 showed a similar increase in revenue as the previous two months. In November, year-over-year sales tax revenue increased by 15%. In October, revenue also increased by 15%, and in September revenue increased by 22%. Year to date, sales tax revenue in Silverthorne increased by 2.2%. December numbers have not yet been finalized.



Six of the town’s eight sales tax categories saw growth in November, with consumer retail up 25%, online retail up 64% and services up 70%. Lodging took a dip after two good months, and was down 5% in November. The Outlets at Silverthorne, which saw declines every month in 2020, was down 23%. Lodging tax collections were down for the first time since June, showing a 1% year-over-year decline in November.

Breckenridge has been on the upswing since July, and while November’s increase wasn’t the whopping 44% seen in October, revenue was up 2% year-over-year. According to the executive summary of the town’s finance report, sales taxes are currently $1.6 million under the year-to-date budget expectations and $1.7 million behind the prior year. However, five of the town’s six sales tax categories were up year-over-year in November, with grocery and liquor up 25%, short-term lodging up 16%, and marijuana sales up 56%. The restaurant and bar category was down 30% in November.

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Due to the boom in the real estate market this year, Breckenridge’s Real Estate Transfer Tax is $1.8 million over budget and $564,000 ahead of the prior year. Revenue for the month of November was up 56% year-over-year, and in December it was up 17%. Single-family homes accounted for 38% of RETT revenue in 2020.

“What we saw through November, and what we have seen through the end of the year, is the exact opposite of our prediction for Real Estate Transfer Tax,” Breckenridge Finance Director Brian Waldes said at last Tuesday’s council work session, referencing predictions made in March. “Real Estate Transfer Tax has really gone up. As a matter of fact at the end of December 2020 we ended up on $7.8 million for RETT which actually eclipses 2019, which was the prior high water mark. So that is what’s carrying your overall revenue number up higher than it otherwise would have been.”

Dillon’s November sales tax report showed its first decline since June, down 17% in November 2020 revenue compared to November 2019. This follows a 17% increase in October and a 13% increase in September. Year to date, the town saw a slight 0.37% increase in overall sales tax revenue through November. While sales tax revenue was down in November, the town’s lodging tax soared with an increase of 213%. Year to date, the town’s lodging tax is up about 2%.

In Frisco, November sales tax revenue was up 15% and hasn’t had a declining month since May. Year to date, the town’s sales taxes are up 2.6%. Of the towns 17 categories, 12 showed a year-over-year increase in November. The town’s top performing business categories in terms of sales taxes were office, up 131%, arts and crafts, up 227%, and home furnishings, up 66%. Health and beauty was down 76%, and hotels and inns were down 31%.

The town’s lodging tax was up 14% in November, but is down 9% year to date, mainly due to major drops in March, April and May. Since May, the town’s lodging tax revenue has shown year-over-year increases every month except September. Specifically, lodging tax revenue for vacation rentals is up 48%, while hotels, inns and bed and breakfast lodging tax is down 32%.

In October, the Summit County government had its first increase in sales tax revenue since February — up 15% — but revenue dipped again in November and was down 10% year-over-year. Year to date, the county’s sales taxes are down 11%.

Graph shows sales tax collections in Summit County from January through November 2020.
Graph by Taylor Sienkiewicz / tsienkiewicz@summitdaily.com

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