Glenwood retail sales down nearly 10 percent in Oct. | AspenTimes.com

Glenwood retail sales down nearly 10 percent in Oct.

John Stroud
Glenwood Springs Post Independent

Summit Canyon Mountaineering employee Emily Schrock fits a ski boot into a binding display at the ski shop in the store on Sixth Street.

The last-minute holiday shopping rush and the prospect of some snow before Christmas could be just the cure for the post-bridge detour hangover when it comes to retail sales in Glenwood Springs.

October was anything but festive, though, to no surprise.

The most-recent city sales tax report shows retail activity was down 9.8 percent during the third month of the Grand Avenue Bridge detour. That was about the time frustrations for commuters and anyone trying to navigate around town were at their highest.

Year to date, after three straight months of negative numbers, sales receipts are down almost 2 percent compared with 2016. Granted, last year marked a second-straight record year in terms of sales tax collections for Glenwood.

During October, sales were off in every major retail category, including a 10 percent drop in general merchandise sales and a 14 percent decline in business for restaurants and bars. Even marijuana sales were down 17.4 percent for the month.

"Overall, when I look at the entire 85-day period that the bridge was closed, we saw a decrease of about 7 percent," said Dan Sullivan, owner of the Green Joint at 11th and Grand.

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"We had some uptick on Labor Day weekend with some of the visitors in town," he said. "But October was down about 10 percent for us."

Sullivan and other retailers note that things have picked back up since the new bridge opened more than 10 days ahead of schedule Nov. 6.

"Sure, there was some general frustration during that time, but I really think the community as a whole handled it well," Sullivan said.

Sixth Street businesses and those in the 700 block of Grand are still dealing with the impacts of the ongoing bridge-related construction and the resulting cone zone.

Lingering confusion about how to access the Sixth Street business district from the north end of the new bridge hasn't helped, said Carl Moak, owner of Summit Canyon Mountaineering.

"Our experience during the bridge shutdown was horrible," he said. "Sales were off much more than during the recession."

Even since the new bridge opened, cones and jersey barriers continue to block a portion of the street in front of his business, which moved to that location about a year ago.

"We would like to get this street back in normal shape," Moak said.

That said, sales have rebounded and are ticking back up with the Christmas shopping season, he said. But the lack of snow hasn't helped get people into either the holiday or snow sports spirit, he said.

That could change with snow in the forecast for today and into the weekend.

Don Bernes, who owns Springs Liquors across Sixth Street from Summit Canyon, said business was down during the detour but not as much as he would have thought. His clientele has changed some, too.

"We have seen a change in our mix of customers, and we're starting to become more of a tourist store with our location," Bernes said.

Before the new bridge was built, he said people often complained that it was too hard to get into and out of the store because cars had to back into highway traffic. Now, it's becoming more of a destination for foot traffic.

"We were down during the construction but not as much as I thought we possibly could be," Bernes said. "It hasn't been catastrophic."

October also brought a big decline in tourism. The city's accommodations tax receipts were down more than 7.8 percent for the month. Year-to-date figures are still up 2.5 percent, though.

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