Bolstered by a strong close to the ski season in March plus a surge in sales of building materials and supplies as the spring home repair season kicked in, Glenwood Springs retail sales ended the first quarter of the year slightly ahead of last year.
According to the city’s March sales tax report, retail sales were up 4.6 percent from March 2013.
That followed a slow January during which retail sales within the city were about 5 percent behind the same month in 2013, followed by a rebound in February when sales were up 2.3 percent from a year earlier.
Through the first three months of the year, the city reported sales taxes were up 0.67 percent, at just over $3.2 million on roughly $85.5 million in retail sales for the quarter, based on the city’s 3.7 percent sales tax rate.
“It was kind of a rough start, but we bounced back some in February, and March was excellent for us,” said Carl Moak, owner of Summit Canyon Mountaineering in downtown Glenwood.
“January was kind of strange,” he said. “With so much snow early in the season, you would think that would be good for a ski or snowboard shop, but we were slow like everyone else.”
First-quarter sales for the ski and mountaineering shop ended up about the same as the January through March period last year, Moak said.
The same was true around the block at the Sunlight Ski & Bike Shop, which benefited in part from a strong season at its sister ski area, Sunlight Mountain Resort.
“We were up in our [ski and snowboard] rentals, and our repairs were about even, but retail was slightly down for us,” said Rob Jankovsky, owner and manager for the downtown retail store. “Profits were still up on retail compared to last year.”
Jankovsky said sales of bikes and accessories have been strong during April and so far in May.
“A lot of people have been in looking for new bikes, more than last year,” he said. “It seems like there’s a little more confidence in the economy, and it’s good to see a lot of the construction guys working again.”
Jennie Spillane, marketing manager at Sunlight Mountain, said the ski area increased its skier visits for a third straight year this season. The small resort, located 10 miles southwest of Glenwood Springs, had 73,700 skier visits for the 2013-14 season, which was up about 6,000 from last year, Spillane said.
“The snow had a lot to do with it,” she said of one of Colorado’s best snow seasons in recent years, during which Sunlight saw an estimated 210 inches of snowfall.
“I also think people just decided they’d get out and ski no matter what, especially families who wanted to teach their kids how to ski,” Spillane said. “Statewide the numbers were up also.”
Colorado Ski Country USA has yet to officially release its statewide skier visits for the just-completed season.
Also helping city of Glenwood Springs sales figures through the first quarter was an approximately $3 million surge in the sale of building materials and supplies during March alone. And that doesn’t reflect the recent opening of Big John’s Ace Hardware in late April.
Through the first quarter of the year, sales are up 10.5 percent for building materials and supplies, while general merchandise sales are running about 7.1 percent behind the same period last year.
General merchandise, which is the city’s largest single retail sales category that includes national chains such as Target and Walmart, has fallen off for two years straight years, ending last year 2.3 percent behind 2012.
Through the first quarter this year, sales were also down 4 percent in the apparel and accessories category, and were also down 6 percent for home furniture sales.
However, sales were up during that period for automotive/service stations (5.9 percent), restaurants and bars (1.7 percent), food stores (0.85 percent), miscellaneous retail (1.6 percent) and motel/hotel (11.2 percent).
The city’s accommodations tax, a 2.5 percent tax on overnight lodging stays, was also up by 11.9 percent through the first quarter. Proceeds from the lodging tax help pay for tourism promotion efforts for the city through a marketing contract with the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association.