Business Monday: The rise in basalt sales continues; Mayors suspect a “sugar rush”

Retail grocery sales in Basalt are down almost 5% this year compared to last year through September. More people ate at home last year during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the decline in grocery sales this year, the category is ahead of pre-COVID numbers.
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Another month, another record of commercial activity at Basalt.

The city of Basalt’s sales tax collections in September were nearly 20% higher than the same month in 2020, which was also strong due to the rebound in COVID-19. The September sales tax report reflects actual sales for August, which is historically one of Basalt’s strongest months.

Last year set a record for sales and sales tax collection at Basalt. This year blows on this record year and far exceeds the pre-COVID figures.

Some of the big winners for August were lodges, restaurants, retail and building supplies, according to Basalt CFO Christy Chicoine’s report.

“Accommodation shows an 18.6% increase between years due to its recovery and higher growth than pre-COVID sales,” its report said. “Restaurants without bars show a 53.3% gain between years, due to higher growth than pre-COVID sales. Restaurants with bars show an increase of 13% over 2020. Retail sales show an increase of 31.6% between years. The building sector increased by 18.3% compared to 2020. “

The only negative in performance was the food retail category. Grocery sales are down about 5% from last August “primarily due to the high volume of sales in 2020 due to concerns over COVID,” Chicoine wrote in her report. “However, food retailing has increased from pre-COVID figures, showing stability in this sector since 2019.”

Since the start of the year through the September report, sales are up 18.8% compared to the same period in 2020. Sales are up in all areas except grocery stores, a reported Chicoine.

“Due to strong sales in the accommodation and food services sectors, these sectors are now showing gains over the previous year and are above pre-COVID sales,” its report notes.

Restaurants with bars are up 39% from the same point last year. Accommodation is up almost 34%. Both sectors were hit hard at the start of the pandemic, but rebounded strongly from last summer.

Basalt Mayor Bill Kane is concerned that the trend of strong sales may continue. At the Oct. 26 council meeting, Kane said he wondered if Basalt and other towns in the valley were experiencing a “sugar high” after the lockdown during the pandemic. People are eager to spend now, but he wonders if this is “sustainable retail”.

Kane said he wants the city to seek development that can help deliver a sustainable future.

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