November 2019 sales taxes in Durango came in flat compared with the same month in 2018, but the city is 3.1% ahead of year-do-date sales tax collections through 11 months compared with 2018.
The city of Durango reported it collected just under $1.82 million in November 2019 sales taxes based on its historic 3% tax rate, a 0.2% increase compared with November 2018.
In addition, a half-cent increase to the sales tax rate that went into effect in July 2019 brought in another $302,790 in sales tax receipts for November 2019.
Through 11 months, sales tax collections for the city, based on the historical 3% tax rate, brought in just under $25.57 million, a 3.1% increase compared with the first 11 months of 2018. The additional half-cent increase in the sales tax rate that went into effect in July, brought in an additional $1.79 million from July through November.
Jack Llewellyn, executive director of the Durango Chamber of Commerce, noted sales tax collections from south Durango, principally Walmart, accounted for 41.08% of all sales taxes collected in the city for November 2018 and that number jumped to 45.03% of all taxes collected in November 2019.
“To me this indicates people were shopping to save money and possibly could have had less to spend,” Llewellyn said in an email. He added that the numbers might indicate people were increasing their shopping at Walmart in an effort to save money.
Tim Walsworth, executive director of Durango’s Business Improvement District, said the numbers reflect a long-term trend – a bigger percentage of sales tax collections for the city are coming from south Durango than other areas of town.
“Yes, I do agree that this is occurring, but am not sure why it’s occurring. We could speculate that perhaps what (Llewellyn) stated is true, there is some logic to it. But I cannot pinpoint it in any way,” Walsworth said in an email. “Maybe it’s because people bought more cars, most car dealerships are in south Durango, and due to prices, those can dramatically affect the numbers. So it could be the opposite, maybe people were purchasing more big-ticket items.”
Walsworth said he tracks the percentage that each area of town collects of the total monthly city sales tax, and the Central Business District, or downtown, collections as a percentage of the total collections and the percentage in south Durango is shrinking with time.
While the percentage of sales tax collections downtown continually drops compared with south Durango, Walsworth said the total dollar amount continues to grow long term – both for downtown and for south Durango.
“The CBD continues to grow and set records, so it’s not that those (south Durango) sales are putting CBD into a decline,” Walsworth said.
Walsworth said November sales tax collections are on average the fourth lowest amount of all 12 months.
“It’s typically one of the slower months of the year. That is backed up by hotel occupancy, which is perhaps a better indicator than lodgers tax collections as those can be affected by price swings, and not necessarily how many rooms are occupied,” Walsworth said.
Walsworth reported that November 2019 was the second lowest month of the year for hotel room occupancy, with only 41.4% of the rooms occupied. The only other month lower than that is January 2019, with an occupancy rate of 34.6%.
Lodgers tax collections for November 2019 came in at $44,120, a 3.2% decline from lodgers tax collections in November 2018. For the first 11 months of 2019, lodgers tax collections came in at just over $1.1 million, a 6.8% increase compared with January through November 2018.