February sales tax reports show business booming in Summit County

Visitors and residents walk along Main Street in Breckenridge on Wednesday, January 12.
Ashley Low / For the Daily News Summit

Summit County businesses have seen large crowds and renewed interest over the winter season, and the new sales tax reports have the numbers to prove it.

Breckenridge, Frisco, Silverthorne and Dillon released February sales tax revenue reports this month. The numbers show what many business owners suspected during the winter season: Summit County is back and thriving.

In Breckenridge, overall February sales tax revenue increased approximately 38% from February 2021 and approximately 45% from February 2019. Silverthorne saw an increase of nearly 24% from February 2021 and Frisco grew nearly 28%. Dillon saw the smallest increase in revenue, with an increase of just over 20% from February 2019.

Local business owners say the numbers reflect what they’ve seen in dining halls and storefronts.

“A lot more people are coming,” said Haleigh Palmer, owner of Chocolate and Cashmere in Breckenridge. “When they arrived, they were more curious and active as buyers. Our sales have increased considerably, it’s true.

Many cities have seen particularly strong revenue increases in the retail sector. In Breckenridge, retail revenue in February was up about 30% from 2021. In Silverthorne, retail was up 31%, and in Frisco, retail was up 32%. Dillon does not provide sales tax revenue data for specific industries.

Palmer suspects the jump in retail may be a sign of shoppers’ renewed enthusiasm for connecting in person after the pandemic removed public gathering spaces. Many of his customers come into the store with no intention of buying anything, but rather to chat with the workers and learn more about Breckenridge.

“A lot of times I feel like we serve as a connection to the community and to Breckenridge itself,” Palmer said. “We always organize around the restaurants we recommend, where we send people to get the best drink in town…every day, at least 30% of the people who come in, that’s what they come for.”

Although lower than retail, the local restaurant industry also saw an increase in revenue. For restaurants in Breckenridge, sales were up about 15%. In Silverthorne, food and beverage businesses grew nearly 28% and in Frisco, restaurants grew 15%.

While restaurants have seen an increase in business, they have also suffered from staff shortages that have plagued local businesses during their busiest months.

Tanecia Spagnolia said her Silverthorne restaurant, Timberline Craft Kitchen & Cocktails, had to turn people away on some of its busiest days due to staffing issues.

“There were definitely times when we didn’t have enough staff to meet volume or demand in the winter,” Spagnolia said.

Even with the increase in salaries and restaurant-owned housing, Spagnolia said it struggled to find people to work in the restaurant’s kitchens. As Summit County enters mud season, the crowds have thinned out a bit, so Spagnolia is focusing on staffing for the summer.

While sales tax revenue is a good indicator of where local businesses are doing, it’s also a reminder of the value of shopping local. The cities use the revenue to fund programs that support people living in all areas of the county.

“The money stays in the community,” Palmer said.

The Summit County government did not send out its February sales tax report before it was released. This report will include revenue figures for businesses located outside the city limits.

This chart shows each city’s sales tax collections for February this year, last year, and in 2020. The Summit County government did not send out its February sales tax report until the deadline, that’s why it’s not included.
Jenna deJong/Summit Daily News

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