November a rough month for Vail sales |

November a rough month for Vail sales

Cliff Thompson

“It was not as good as last year,” said Bill Jewitt of Bart “n’ Yetis restaurant in Lionshead. “It was primarily because the mountain opened five days later this year than last. There’s no reason for people to come to Vail in mid-November if the ski hill isn’t open.”

Overall sales tax receipts decreased 8. 6 percent while the retail segment of that was down 15.1 percent. Lodging, food and beverage sales generated sales-tax collections that were 4.7 and 6.2 percent beneath last November’s totals. Sales-tax receipts are generally accepted to be an accurate measure of the state of the town’s economy.

Vail’s town budget receives 45 percent of its annual operating revenue from sales tax receipts, and over the last decade sales tax receipts have flattened or decreased while expenses have increased. The town adjusted by cutting nearly $1 million out of its 2004 budget.

The total sales tax collected by the town in November was $590,226 – down $55,656 or 8.6 percent from November 2002. The retail segment in November generated $255,631 versus the $301,101 generated a year earlier. Lodging generated $77,499 or 4.7 percent less than 2003’s $81,297. Food and beverage sales dipped 6.2 percent from $127,497 to $125,278.

When examined by retail category, gift sales declined the most – 17 percent- while jewelry sales actually increased – 12.3 percent. But jewelry sales totals make up the second-smallest gift category, and total just $8,289.

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Sales of sports equipment, the single-largest category of retail sales, mirrored the greater retail picture and were down 15 percent, with $85,465 in sales tax collected.

Food sales, the second-largest category, were down 16.4 percent and generated $69,036 in sales tax.

But Steve Rosenthal at Colorado Footwear in Vail Village said he didn’t see a drop in business.

“I was dead even in November,” he said. “The third week of the month brought us even. I was pretty happy with that.”

Sales by geographic area show Vail Village’s sales-tax collections were down 9.7 percent while Lionshead, driven by a 20 percent increase in lodging from the re-entry of the remodeled Marriott Mountain Resort into the market, posted a 5.7 percent increase in sales-tax collections.

Sales in Cascade Village, East Vail, Sandstone and West Vail were down 15.7 percent while out of town sales were down 6.9 percent.

Rosenthal said anecdotal evidence from the merchants he’s met with in Vail and Lionshead suggests retail sales in December and January grew by double digits.

Cliff Thompson can be contacted via e-mail at or by calling 949-0555 ext. 450.

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