Thursday, December 14, 2000
Steamboat Springs After speeding through the summer at a record growth rate, the Steamboat Springs economy, as it has in the past, hit the brakes in October.
While the city did take in 4.6 percent more revenue from sales tax than it did in October of last year, that amounted to a total of only $708,830. During peak months such as March, the city is liable to make as much as $1.5 million off sales tax revenues.
"October's a shoulder season," said city Finance Director Don Taylor. "It's not going to indicate as much about the economy as other months."
The latest sales tax report for the city does indicate that liquor stores seem to have been doing less business than usual or people are buying less expensive alcohol.
Liquor stores overall sent 17.2 percent less sales tax dollars into the city's coffers than they did in October 1999.
For the year, the 11 liquor stores in Steamboat have sent slightly less money to the city in tax revenues than they did in 1999, slipping 0.2 percent but October showed an especially dramatic drop.
Ted Heid, the co-owner of Sundance Liquors, said the drop in sales might have to do with a slowdown in the construction season from last year's construction boom. The Yampa Valley Medical Center and the Steamboat Grand were both under construction in 1999.
"Last year's construction left us," he said.
Heid wasn't particularly concerned about the slowdown, however, given the slow economy and few tourists in October.
"It's always slow in mud season," he said.
John Seymour, the owner of West End Liquors, echoed Heid's comments.
"We attribute the decrease to a slowdown in big construction projects," he said.
Another liquor store owner attributed the decrease in sales to the change in the hunting season rather than the construction lull.
"We'd been chugging along really well until October," said Steve Muench, who owns Steamboat Discount Liquors. "Locals and construction workers stayed pretty steady, but less hunters came in."
Muench also said that his customers are not necessarily buying less alcohol but are being more frugal in their selections.
"We get the same number of visits, but the people are buying cheaper stuff," he said.
Greg Stetman of Central Park Liquor, however, didn't think there was much of a slowdown at all.
"I don't think there's any problem with the liquor market in town," he said, noting that his store was up in October.
The industry may be dealt yet another blow due to the fact that both Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve are on Sundays.
"Remember to buy early," Heid said.