Vail’s October activity equals last year |

Vail’s October activity equals last year

Cliff Thompson

Vail Daily/Bret HartmanBeatriz Nieto and Norah Celorio leave Karin's in Beaver Creek Wednesday after doing some last minute holiday shopping. Vail's sales tax collections for October ran about even with last years collections for the same month.

Collections of Vail’s 4 percent sales tax in October came close to breaking even with last October’s collections, but fell short by just 0.7 percent.

Collections totalled $485,096 with increases in lodging tax and food and beverage sales while retail sales slipped 5.6 percent.

Sales tax collections account for 45 percent of the town’s annual revenue, and are looked upon by many as a metric that can be used to measure economic vitality. Over the last decade those collections have flattened or even decreased, while the cost of providing service has in most cases, increased. That has forced the town to pare its budget, and trim services and staff.

For retailer Ghiqui Hoffman of the Laughing Monkey on Bridge Street, October’s good weather translated into a pretty good month for her business.

“When the weather is good in October our Front Range customers come up to shop and to have lunch,” she said.

One longtime Vail retailer, Colleen McCarthy of the Baggage Cheque, said she decided to seek greener pastures and moved her business to Edwards.

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“I had the best October since 1991,” she said.

By sales category, lodging led the way with a 16.6 percent increase with retail sales down 5.6 percent while food and beverage sales townwide were down 4.5 percent.

Collections in Vail Village increased 4.5 percent in October with retail sales up 4.5 percent, lodging up 2.4 percent and food and beverage sales up 3.6 percent. Total sales in Vail Village for the moth were $166,099.

Lionshead’s sales tax collections were up 8.3 percent, driven largely by the reopening of the remodeled 349 room Marriott Mountain Resort. It helped lodging tax collections to surge 28 percent while food and beverage sales were up 12.2 percent. Retail sales declined 7.3 percent. Total Lionshead sales for October were $50,201.

Sales in Cascade Village, East, Vail, Sandstone and West Vail were down 10.3 percent despite a 37.2 percent increase in lodging-tax collections. Retail sales declined 17.3 percent while food and beverage sales were up 3.8 percent. Total collections for the month were $143,657, a $16,517 decrease.

Despite the decline in overall retail sales, there were some separate retail categories that showed increases. Apparel sales totalled $19,671, up 10.4 percent, while liquor sales totalled $12, 613, up 6.7 percent. Jewelry sales totaled $7,179, up just a smidgeon.

Food sales were down 14. 2 percent to $67,727; sales of sport-related items totalled $36,323, down 13.3 percent; and gift sales declined 4 percent from $4,511 to $4,331.

Summer season trends

Statistics collected for the summer season, which spans to October, shows Vail Village overall suffered a 3.4 percent decline in collections, from $1.855 million to $1.792 million. Retail sales totalled $684,436, down 0.1 percent; lodging-tax collections totalled $357,028 and were down 8 percent while food and beverage sales, the largest category at $724,065, declined 3.6 percent.

Lionshead showed a 24.3 percent increase in collections with huge gains in food and beverage and lodging. Food sales increased 42 percent – from 130,162 to $184,806 and retail sales pulled back 3.1 percent, from $205,253 in 2002 to $198,919.

In the outlying areas of the town, Cascade Village, East Vail, Sandstone and West Vail, sales tax collections for the summer decreased 8.2 percent from $1.29 million to $1.19 million. Retail sales declined 7.2 percent, lodging 11.5 percent and food and beverage was down 4 percent.

Taxes on goods and services taxed to out-of town entities showed an 8.2 percent increase with the largest category, utility bills and other charges, totalled $780,339. up $18,553 or 3.2 percent. Retail sales totaled $171,407 and were up 41.1 percent.

Holiday biz up, down and even

Retailers have mixed reports about the holiday season

Cliff Thompson

Holiday business across the county, according to retailers, is either better, worse or the same as last year. It seems to vary according to location and business type as much as anything else.

“We’re about even with last year,” said Tim Scully of Scully’s Art, Office and Drafting Supplies in Eagle-Vail, which has had the same location for more than a decade. “Boxed Christmas cards and stocking stuffers were the hottest sellers. They went fast.”

Steve Rosenthal at Colorado Footwear said holiday sales started strong but have fallen off in the last few days.

“We’re still waiting for the big flurry,” he said. “We get 75 percent of our December business in the next seven days.”

Rosenthal said the beautiful weather has encouraged people to head for the slopes as opposed to the shops. That’s the experience being reported by Ghiqui Hoffman at Bridge Street’s Laughing Monkey.

“So far there doesn’t seem to be a lot of people in town,” Hoffman said. “We’re hoping a lot of people will show up right after Christmas.”

At Verbatim Booksellers, which in October relocated from Lionshead to East Meadow Drive, has been having a good holiday season, said owner Robert Aiken.

“Our holiday season is doing pretty well,” he said. ” Everyone’s back in town and we’ve been doing very well over the last couple of weeks – above projections. Next week is our really big week.”

In Beaver Creek, customer traffic appears on par with an average year, said Mark Kihle at Knox Galleries. His business typically does not sell a lot of items for Christmas.

“It’s not bad as some years, not as good as others.” Kihle said. “It’s about average. Traffic has really picked up since Saturday.”

For one merchant, moving her business out of Vail Village proved to be a good move.

Colleen McCarthy of the Baggage Cheque closed her Vail Village location and moved it to the Riverwalk in Edwards.

“I had the best October I’ve had since 1991,” she said. “So far I’m having a better December than in the last two years in Vail.”

Cliff Thompson can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 450, or