Glenwood Springs sees first monthly sales drop in 3 years
The city of Glenwood Springs sales tax report for February came in a bit cloudy after 36 straight months of sunny reports, but with some indications of a silver lining as the first quarter concluded.
February retail sales numbers were down 1.6 percent compared with the same month last year, resulting in about $18,500 less in sales taxes than were collected in February 2016, based on the initial report for the month.
It was the first monthly decrease in the year-over-year comparison since January 2014, when sales were off by nearly 4.8 percent.
Softening the February blow some was the fact that January numbers were adjusted after a rather large late sales tax payment came in, according to city officials.
So, what was first reported as a 0.62 percent increase in sales taxes for the first month of the year ended up being a 2.1 percent increase and an extra $17, 878 in the city coffers.
February is typically one of the slowest months for retail sales in Glenwood Springs, so it’s hard to read too much into that single-month drop.
As the city awaits the March sales figures, which are expected by mid-May, it is something that is being monitored closely for budgetary reasons, City Manager Debra Figueroa said. The city budgeted for a 2 percent increase in sales tax revenues for the year, she said.
Through just two months of the year, sales taxes are up slightly at plus 0.28 percent compared with 2016. Glenwood Springs concluded a second straight record year for sales tax collections last year with a 4.4 percent increase over the previous year.
The early trend for the year does suggest that sales are flattening in some of the larger retail categories.
Through February, the largest category, general merchandise, was down 2.4 percent; sales of furniture and home furnishings was down 10.8 percent; and sales taxes collected from hotels and motels were down 7.9 percent.
Sales in the miscellaneous retail category were also down more than 13 percent compared with the first two months of 2016. However, that’s largely due to the fact that legal marijuana sales, which used to be included in the miscellaneous category, were broken out into a separate category starting in June of last year. Year to date, marijuana sales are up more than 13 percent.
Also trending in the positive through February were sales of building materials and supplies, up 7.6 percent; automobile sales, servicing and parts, up 3.3 percent; apparel and accessories, up almost 12 percent; and bars and restaurants, up 1.6 percent.
The city’s separate accommodations tax on overnight stays was also up 4.6 percent for February after a slow January, and through the first two months together were 1.2 percent ahead of last year.
Boding well for the pending first-quarter sales figures, March occupancy of hotel and motel rooms and other types of lodging was up compared with last year, according to the monthly Rocky Mountain Lodging Report published by the Colorado Hotel and Lodging Association.
In March, 70 percent of available rooms and other accommodations that are included in the database were occupied, compared with 67 percent for March 2016. For the year to date through the first quarter, hotel occupancy was up about 1 percent, and the average daily room rate was also up, from $120.06 per night during the first quarter of 2016 to $122.46 for the first three months of this year.