Glenwood retail sales slow in December |

Glenwood retail sales slow in December

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – December was still the biggest month by far for retail sales in the city of Glenwood Springs for 2012, though things slowed down during the holiday shopping season compared to previous months.

The city had a 5.2 percent overall increase in sales taxes for the year, compared to 2011, at just over $14 million, according to the preliminary year-end city of Glenwood Springs sales tax report sent out this week.

It was the largest amount of sales tax revenues for the city since 2008 when the national recession hit locally. Sales taxes for the city that year were $16.4 million.

While month-over-month gains in retail sales ranged anywhere from 2 percent to 12 percent per month for the first 11 months of the year, the increase in December sales paled by comparison.

December was the largest single month for sales taxes, at $1,476,558. However, that was only 0.65 percent more than for December 2011, according to the year-end report.

The December and year-end numbers are still preliminary until some of the smaller retailers file their year-end reports, city finance director Michael Harman said.

Last month, before the year-end numbers were known, several local retail business owners observed that the holiday shopping season was OK, but nothing to write home about.

Downtown merchants in particular reported that things got off to a fast start right after Thanksgiving, but slowed down through the first half of December until right before the Christmas holiday.

Glenwood Springs City Manager Jeff Hecksel said the December sales tax numbers were disappointing.

“I’m not surprised, though,” he said. “We saw that same trend at the end of [2011], where in past years we were fortunate to have a strong holiday season.

“The question moving forward is, are we ever going to see that again, given what electronic and e-commerce is now,” Hecksel said.

For city government budgeting purposes, though, the sales tax numbers are still about 2 to 3 percent better than projected, he said.

“One month doesn’t make a year,” Hecksel said. “It could just be that we’re going to have to be more dependent on the summer months in the future.”

Most of the city’s retail categories ended the year ahead of last year in terms of sales.

The largest single category, general merchandise, closed out the year down 0.33 percent compared to 2011, as did the miscellaneous retail category, which was down almost 3 percent for the year.

General merchandise includes the larger retailers in Glenwood Springs, such as Target and Wal-Mart.

The miscellaneous category includes such retail businesses as liquor stores, office supply stores, drug stores, sporting goods stores, book stores, jewelry stores and florists, according to city sales tax coordinator Meg Roettele.

Otherwise, the other major retail categories all had increased sales over 2011, including building materials/supplies (7.12 percent); grocery stores (1.9 percent); automotive/service stations (10.6 percent); apparel/accessories (54 percent); furniture/home furnishings (7.5 percent); bars/restaurants (6 percent); and motel/hotel (11.3 percent)

The city also closed out 2012 with a nearly 11.7 percent increase in its accommodations (lodging) tax over the previous year, including a 1 percent increase in December.

The lodging tax, which goes to support tourism marketing efforts, brought in $721,787 for 2012, compared to $645,255 in 2011.

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