Liquor and grocery sales carried Basalt’s economy in April |

Liquor and grocery sales carried Basalt’s economy in April

Whole Food and Four Dogs Wine and Spirits are anchor tenants at Willits Town Center. Sales of groceries and retail liquor are carrying the Basalt economy right now.
Aspen Times file

Sales of groceries, retail liquor and building materials were out the roof in Basalt during April as people dealt with stay-at-home orders during the coronavirus pandemic.

On the flip side, lodges, restaurants and sporting good retailers took it on the chin because of mandatory closures early in the crisis, according to the latest sales tax report for the town of Basalt.

“Obviously this has impacted businesses differently depending on the sector,” town finance director Christy Hamrick told the Basalt Town Council this week.

Overall, sales tax collections were down 6% compared to April 2020. However, that was less of a hit than the town was anticipating.

Shoppers from the upper and middle Roaring Fork Valley flocked to City Market and Whole Foods in Basalt with so many restaurants closed or relying on take-out service in April. Sale taxes from retail food were up 20% for the month to $202,608.

Liquor sales were up 33% compared with April 2019. Building materials were up 10.7%.

The general retail sector managed an increase even though many mom-and-pop stores were closed for at least a portion of April. Sales tax collections in the category were up 4% to $108,929.

“Almost all because of online sales,” said Hamrick.

But restaurants and bars saw their sales sag about 60% for April compared with last year. Lodging was down 79%. Sporting retail was off 49% and automotive related sales were down 26%.

Basalt Mayor Bill Kane said the town government must keep an eye on trends and be prepared to respond with stimulus efforts. The town plans to launch its Basalt Bucks program later this month. Households will receive a $20 voucher in the mail for use at participating businesses this summer.

For April overall, Basalt collected $490,597. That far exceeded town officials’ expectations when Basalt adjusted its budget at the start of the health crisis.

“The revenue model anticipated $442,844 in sales tax collections for the month of May, and the actual totaled $490,597,” Hamrick wrote in a report. “Therefore, the revenue modeling will be adjusted up to reflect the actual impacts.”

For the year-to-date, Basalt is up 12.6% in sales tax collections compared with the same point last year.


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