Glenwood’s first-quarter retail sales strong
Another jump of nearly 9 percent in Glenwood Springs sales taxes during March rounded out a solid first quarter for retail sales activity through the winter and into early spring.
Retail sales through three months of the year were running more than 10.3 percent ahead of 2014, according to the city’s first-quarter sales tax report released late last week.
Six of the city’s 13 retail categories show double-digit percentage increases over last year, including restaurants; lodging; apparel and accessories; transportation/utilities; building materials and supplies; and automobile sales, parts and service.
Those latter two sectors are each running more than 18 percent ahead of 2014, continuing an upward trend that began last year in building, home improvement and hardware sales, as well as auto sales and servicing.
Automobile-related sales in the city are up more than 18.3 percent so far this year.
According to Don Gerbaz, vice president and general manager at Berthod Motors, most of that increase is related to auto parts, although vehicle sales have picked up as well.
“The first quarter is usually slow on the sales side, but we have been really busy in repairs and servicing,” Gerbaz said.
He noted that, citywide, those numbers have been increasing over the past two years with the addition of Berthod’s Dodge dealership, as well as the addition of the new Mountain Chevrolet and High Country Honda dealerships in the Glenwood Springs market.
Gerbaz also noted that local sales taxes apply only to vehicles sold to people living within Glenwood Springs city limits, where taxes on sales to customers living elsewhere in Garfield County or outside the county go to their own communities.
For that reason, the bulk of the Glenwood sales tax increase is likely attributable to parts sold in the service departments of dealerships and at independent service stations in town.
“Just about all of that gets taxed locally,” Gerbaz said.
Sales of building materials can also be skewed by the fact that lumber and certain other materials bought in Glenwood Springs but used for building outside city limits shows up in use taxes collected by the jurisdiction where the actual construction occurs.
Still, sales of building materials and supplies, which includes everything from sales at the Lowe’s Home Improvement Center at Glenwood Meadows to sales of hardware and accessories at Big John’s Ace Hardware, are also up more than 18.7 percent through the first quarter of 2015.
“We’ve had a really good first year, and have exceeded all of our own budget numbers and Ace’s numbers,” said Big John’s owner John Lindsey, who reopened his hardware store on South Glen Avenue in late April 2014, after several years’ absence from the local market.
“We had our typical seasonal slowdown in January and February, but were back on track in March,” Lindsey said.
He also acknowledged that the mild winter likely prompted some people to do outdoor home improvement projects that they might have otherwise put off until later in the spring.
“We’re pretty excited about the future, and feel good about the decision to reopen the store,” Lindsey added. “It’s a good location, and the community has been very supportive.”
The third-largest sector increase was for overnight stays at Glenwood Springs hotels, motels and other accommodations.
Glenwood’s regular 3.8 percent sales tax rate collected on overnight stays brought in 16 percent more for the first three months of this year compared with 2014, while the city’s special 2.5 percent accommodations tax for tourism promotion purposes is up 16.3 percent for the year to date.
Increased tourism has also led, in part, to an increase in eating out. Restaurants and bars recorded a 13.6 percent increase in sales through the first quarter of 2015.
“A lot of that increase is due to the higher density of restaurants, not necessarily that we’re all busier,” observed Jamie Theriot, owner of Smoke Modern BBQ in the 700 block of Grand Avenue, where several new restaurants opened or relocated last year.
“We have been very pleased with the traffic down here,” Theriot said. “One thing we would like to do is try to galvanize the restaurants in this area and begin to do some group marketing, especially during the slower times, to drive more traffic downtown.”
During those slower periods, “Glenwood is a big-time weekend town, even if the weeknights are less than thrilling,” Theriot said.
Most other retail categories also saw increased sales through the first quarter, including food stores, up 5.9 percent; apparel/accessories, up 11.3 percent; home furnishings, up 9 percent; miscellaneous retail (including jewelry, floral, liquor and both medical and recreational marijuana sales), up 7.4 percent; and the city’s largest sector, general merchandise, up 4.7 percent.
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