Mountain towns, including in Summit County, experience a dip in business over the summer

Visitors and residents walk along Main Street in Breckenridge on Friday, July 2, 2021. This summer, businesses are experiencing a dip during what was assumed to be a busy tourist season.
Tripp Fay/For the Summit Daily News

This summer was predicted to be a summer of booming business. 

The pandemic isn’t as prevalent, and travel restrictions are lesser. However, Brian Jones, co-owner of Northside Pizza in Breckenridge, said he’s heard from other businesses that bookings have gone down. 

Destimetrics, a business intelligence branch of Inntopia that collects data from different vacation destinations, came out with numbers recently that show a decrease in business in 17 mountain destinations in seven western states. 

The report said the shortage is likely due to high inflation, rising interest rates and declining financial markets.

Destimetrics reported that occupancy from May through October is down 9% compared to last year at the same time, with July and August experiencing the largest drop — 12.3% and 17.7% respectively. And though there has been an increase in the daily rate by almost 7%, the decrease in occupancy is hurting these destinations, shown by a 2.8% decrease in revenue compared to 2021.

These numbers are still better than they were during the pandemic, but compared to before the pandemic, things are still not back to normal.

Jones added though he hasn’t experienced too much of a difference from the summer of 2022 in comparison to the summer of 2021, the month of July is starting to look like there has been a decrease in sales. 

His theory is that the summer of 2021 was full of people taking road trips, responding to the summer of 2020 — when COVID-19 was in full swing — by going on vacation.

“Everybody was trying to get outside, do outdoor activities,” he said. “I know trying to buy a camper last year was ridiculously expensive and hard because everyone was buying one.”  

This summer, however, gas prices are through the roof, so Jones said people want to stay close to their “home base” to save money. 

On the flip side, Tanecia Spagnolia, the owner of Timberline Craft Kitchen and Cocktails in Silverthorne, said she thinks more people are vacationing internationally this summer. In her own life, she’s known quite a few people who had planned international trips that are just now getting to have their adventure. 

She added that most of her customers have been second homeowners from the Front Range, leading her to believe that a lot of people may not want to spend the money to come up to Summit County due to gas prices. 

Spagnolia also recognized that right now is a time of economic uncertainty, with a recession potentially looming around the corner. 

Both business owners experienced a dip in sales during the Fourth of July weekend. They believe that the lack of fireworks took people to other towns. 

Spagnolia said they received much fewer sales than anticipated on July 4 but got much more on July 5, when she thought people may be coming back into, or through, town from where they went to watch fireworks. 

Whichever theory is correct, there is data to show that sales and bookings have decreased for mountain communities in the west.

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