Retail and marijuana bolster Breckenridge’s February sales numbers

Wood carved bears withstand the weather while on display for sale at Foote's Rest Sweet Shoppe Wednesday, Feb. 6, in Frisco. The month’s strong snowfall is credited for helping Frisco businesses increase their net taxable sales by over %4 compared to February 2018.
Hugh Carey /

All in all, February was another strong month for Summit County’s business community and for the towns’ coffers that are fed by sales tax revenue.

Looking at the most recent sales tax reports from Summit’s four largest towns, the month brought rising sales volumes to Frisco and Breckenridge while the reports coming out of Silverthorne and Dillon weren’t quite so glowing.

Frisco and Breckenridge were both up more than 4% compared to the same month last year. The bump helped put Frisco’s sales tax receipts 6.93% ahead through the first two months of the year, and Breckenridge has seen a year-to-date growth in estimated taxable sales tax revenue just shy of 4%.

February’s slight dip in Dillon (-1.97%) can largely be explained by looking at last year, when the town logged wild, double-digit growth in January and February. Maintaining that kind of growth rate was never realistic, and it’s a good sign the town has held mostly steady through the first two months of this year with sales taxes only down 2.01% year to date.

Silverthorne saw the biggest month-over-month decline across Summit County with February’s estimated sales taxes 5.67% behind February 2018. Like Dillon, however, Silverthorne is tracking steady through the first two months of the year and is only 0.92% off year-to-date.

For January and February, the most significant increases in Silverthorne’s sales tax receipts came in the food and liquor (up 14.61%) and lodging (up 26.12%) categories. The most noteworthy decrease was in the town’s services sector, which was down 51.68%.

Like the other three town’s financial specialists, Silverthorne revenue administrator Kathy Marshall has mostly attributed the two categories’ rising sales to heightened tourism and favorable ski conditions throughout the winter.

Additionally, she pointed out that Silverthorne’s lodging tax collections are up 45% over last year. She said an increased short-term rental licensing and compliance, as well as an agreement with Airbnb, have contributed to the spike. After the town recently updated its rules on short-term rentals, she added that Silverthorne has issued 116 licenses.

For Frisco, the most significant growth in actual dollars was exhibited in the general retail, grocery, vacation rentals and restaurant categories, though it should be noted that 11 of the town’s 17 categories experienced growth in February, and 12 of them are ahead year-to-date.

Frisco revenue specialist Chad Most explained via email that the general retail category has benefited from county sales taxes being shared back to the town and from new Colorado Department of Revenue guidelines that require retailers who ship taxable goods to locations in Frisco to remit local sales taxes.

“The most significant factor, however, in the growth of all of the above-listed categories remains the great snow conditions this season, especially when compared to the rather paltry winter of 2017-18,” Most continued.

Smaller amounts of growth materialized in Frisco’s hotels and inns, arts and crafts, automotive, clothing, gifts, office and marijuana categories.

The most significant decline in actual dollars came in Frisco’s home improvement category, though Most attributed the declining growth rate to last year’s “abnormally strong” February.

Smaller dips were recorded in Frisco’s home furnishings, liquor, health and beauty, recreation and utility categories.

In Breckenridge, grocery and liquor (1.08%), restaurants and bars (1.18%), marijuana (6.18%) all had strong months for sales compared to February 2018, but general retail did some of the heaviest lifting by going up 15.73%.

Most said the strong national, state and local economies continue to drive population, employment and ancillary spending in Summit County, while the towns’ and private business’ investments in infrastructure and marketing have helped attract new businesses and generate added commercial activity.

The recent sales tax reports suggest the rapid growth rates seen across Summit County — sometimes in excess of 10% month over month — might be tailing off after about a decade of continued growth.

However, for the most part, Summit County’s towns are still seeing solid growth in many different categories and with their overall sales tax revenues.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Summit Daily is embarking on a multiyear project to digitize its archives going back to 1989 and make them available to the public in partnership with the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection. The full project is expected to cost about $165,000. All donations made in 2023 will go directly toward this project.

Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.