GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado - Retail sales in Glenwood Springs continued on the uptick through November and were on track to surpass 2011 figures by about 5 percent, according to the latest city sales tax report.
For November 2012, sales taxes collected by the city were up 2.3 percent compared to the same month the previous year. Retail sales for the year to date through 11 months were up an average of 5.7 percent.
However, it remains to be seen how sales held up through the holiday shopping season in December.
Preliminary year-end sales tax numbers for the city will not be available until the first week of February, with a final report coming in March.
According to some local merchants, though, the holiday season started off strong with the traditional "Black Friday" kick-off on Nov. 23, sputtered through the first part of December, then picked up again in final weeks before Christmas.
"We had a big Black Friday and Small Business Saturday," said Erin Zalinski, co-owner of TreadZ, a shoe and accessories store in downtown Glenwood Springs.
The Saturday after Thanksgiving has become a traditional day set aside for consumers to do their best to support locally-owned businesses.
Once December hit, though, Zalinski said things slowed down until just before Christmas.
"When the snow came, everything picked back up again," she said of a mid-December snowstorm that helped put people in the holiday mood.
"We stayed open later than we have in the past," Zalinski said. Overall, though, she said her numbers were up only "moderately" compared to last year.
It was much the same story for Sheila Davis, owner of Personality Clothes and Accessories across the street. However, she said her numbers were markedly down compared to last holiday season.
"We had probably our best Black Friday ever," Davis said of her six-year-old business. "But it slowed down noticeably after that, and then picked back up at the end."
January is starting off as her worst ever compared to past years, she said.
"It seemed to be pretty active downtown during the holidays," said Tom Fleming, program manager for the Glenwood Springs Downtown Partnership.
Whether that translated to stronger sales overall remains to be seen, he said.
"I certainly haven't heard any negative feedback," Fleming said. "My sense is that it was a good season, or at least as good as last year."
Ken Robinson, owner of Roaring Fork Liquors in the Roaring Fork Marketplace in south Glenwood, said his November numbers were "soft" and December was "OK."
"We were doing pretty well until October, then things just sort of fell off," Robinson said. "December was a really weird month. It started off backwards, but then it ended OK.
"And it wasn't just me, I asked around to a lot of people and they all said the same thing," he said.
For the year as a whole, though, Robinson said his beer, wine and liquor sales were up slightly compared to 2011.
Through November 2012, the city of Glenwood Springs reported sales tax collections of just over $12.5 million, with what's usually the biggest single month of the year still to go. The city collected a total $13.3 million in sales taxes in 2011, including more than $1.4 million in December alone.
Sales were up in 13 of 14 retail categories through November. The only exception was the miscellaneous retail category, which was down almost 3 percent for the year through 11 months.
The city's accommodations (lodging) tax collections were up an average of 12.4 percent through November, including another 11.5 percent increase in November compared to the same month in 2011.