Glenwood Springs Chamber report shows numerous retail ‘opportunity gaps’ |

Glenwood Springs Chamber report shows numerous retail ‘opportunity gaps’

Glenwood Springs continues to be the retail sales hub of Garfield County, with tourists and shoppers from outside the county accounting for a large portion of those sales, according to the latest Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association TRENDS economic indicators report.

The 2013 report, which was released earlier this week, focuses exclusively on retail activity.

It’s the first time retail data for Glenwood Springs and the county at large has been compiled for the report since 2010, said Marianne Virgili, president and CEO for the Glenwood Chamber.

According to the report, nearly 47 percent of all retail dollars spent in Garfield County were spent in Glenwood Springs stores.

Rifle retailers accounted for 16 percent of sales and Carbondale 5 percent, while the remaining 32 percent was spread out around the other municipalities and unincorporated parts of the county, according to the report.

Residents of the smaller towns, including New Castle, Silt and Parachute, and those living outside town limits, accounted for 57 percent of consumer spending by county residents, according to the data compiled for the Chamber by the Nielsen Company.

Non-residents, either people from neighboring counties or visitors from outside the region, have accounted for $692 million in sales this year within Glenwood Springs, where sales exceed local demand from city residents by 83 percent, according to the report.

Countywide, that figure is $970 million, with sales exceeding demand from within the county by almost 55 percent.

“This is not surprising, due to the tourist trade and the fact that Glenwood Springs is a major retail hub for Garfield County as well as adjacent Pitkin and Eagle counties,” the report states.

“Nearly 58 percent of dollars spent in Rifle … were from non-residents, at nearly $165 million,” the report also concluded. “Carbondale figures, on the other hand, show an opportunity gap with demand from residents exceeding their expenditures by $4.4 million, or 5.4 percent, in 2013.”

The report also includes an assessment of those so-called local “opportunity gaps,” which are shortfalls between overall consumer expenditures for certain types of merchandise and actual retail sales of those goods locally.

While Rifle and Carbondale and the county as a whole have opportunity gaps, the data shows Glenwood Springs by itself has surplus sales in every category.

“Therefore, there is no retail opportunity in the city when considered alone,” according to the report.

However, the door is still wide open for would-be new merchants to capture some of that spending within the county and even more locally in Rifle or Carbondale, the report suggests.

“Women’s clothing shows the largest gap between sales and expenditures, with local consumers spending over $11 million outside the county,” the report concludes. “Children’s wear follows with a nearly $9 million gap, and drugs, health and beauty aids are in third place with a gap of $6.6 million.”

Smaller gaps exist for toys and games, books, electronics, and optical goods.

Breaking the numbers down more locally, Rifle has nearly $6.5 million in unmet demand locally for drugs, health and beauty aids and a $2.9 million gap between the available supply and demand for women’s, juniors’ and misses’ clothing.

Carbondale also has large gaps across the board in consumer spending by town residents for clothing, computers, books and electronics compared to actual retail sales locally for those items.

County-wide, there’s a huge surplus of automobiles, more than $300 million worth, compared to local consumer demand for cars and trucks.

“That’s due to the concentration of area auto dealers in Garfield County,” according to the report, and the fact that those dealers serve a larger region taking in surrounding counties.

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