COLORADO SPRINGS — The December sales tax report from the City of Colorado Springs shows year-to-date revenue to fell in 2020, but not nearly as much as officials had feared earlier in the year. Businesses have 30 days to submit their monthly taxes. So, the December data reflects sales activity through the end of November.
As of November 30, the roughly $166 million in total sales tax revenue measured about 0.63 percent lower compared to this same point in 2019. In April, Mayor John Suthers implemented a hiring freeze amid a package of budget cuts aimed at lowering city spending by $20 million for the year.
Industry-specific data show vast disparities in how the pandemic and government restrictions have affected local businesses. Tax collections from hotels, clothing stores, and restaurants experienced some of the steepest declines of 49 percent, 20 percent, and 14 percent respectively. Meanwhile, sales of medical marijuana, building materials, and miscellaneous retail all saw sharp gains of 40 percent, 17 percent, and 15 percent respectively.
Bars, restaurants, theaters, performance venues, and gyms have faced some of the harshest restrictions under the state's COVID-dial framework. At level red, bars and movie theaters were required to close. Indoor dining at restaurants was prohibited. Gyms and fitness centers had to limit capacity to 10 percent.
"We had as much business as we could possibly fit in here with all the regulations," said Adam Hiles, assistant general manager at Jose's Muldoon's on Tejon Street.
He said carry out and delivery orders kept the restaurant going during the month of December. The downtown mainstay also made extensive use of its outdoor patio.
Now that they can offer customers a table inside again, Hiles said he's been able to bring back most of the employees who had to be laid off. The few exceptions were for employees who moved out of town.
At Halo Boutique, just a few doors north on Tejon Street, store manager Cintia Kiss-Davis has stocked up on comfy winter sweaters, hats, and scarves. She said the statewide stay at home order in March and April hurt the business, but things had started looking better.
"When we first opened back up after the lock-down, business was good, and then things just kind of deflating a little bit with the more restrictions that happened," she said.
Kiss-Davis noticed a spillover effect from the dining room closures at the restaurants.
"Because the restaurants weren't able to open, or they were only allowed to have that 25 percent capacity, we just did not have that foot traffic that we normally had before."
The region's housing boom has meant a much higher volume in sales of building materials. At just under $2 million in tax revenue, sales in this category trail only miscellaneous retail as bringing in the highest amounts of to the city.
Both Hiles and Kiss-Davis told News 5 that they appreciated the support the community had shown their businesses during such a difficult year.
"I just want to continue to thank our customers," Hiles said. "We're going be here as long as you guys will keep us around."
"It was definitely not an easy year for anybody but we couldn't have gotten through without the public support," Kiss-Davis added.
The Downtown Gift Card, which is offered by the Downtown Partnership, can be used at more than 100 stores, restaurants, and galleries in the downtown area. Visit downtowncs.com to find a directory of all of the locally-owned shops in the neighborhood.