Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Ketchum LOT up for 5th straight month

January hotel receipts up nearly 20 percent

Express Staff Writer

Ketchum hotels, including the Clarion Inn, above, saw a rebound in room receipts in early 2012. Photo by Roland Lane

Every month so far this fiscal year has seen an increase, albeit small, in Ketchum's local-option tax receipt totals, compared with figures from the previous year.

Numbers reported to the city in February, reflecting business transactions in January, rose 3.64 percent over the previous January.

Fiscal year-to-date figures are up 4.83 percent from the same time last year. The fiscal year began Oct. 1.

Ketchum charges a 2 percent sales tax on lodging and by-the-glass liquor sales, and a 1 percent tax on retail sales and building materials.

Many people look at LOT receipts to gauge the health of the economy because the figures measure activity at businesses frequented by visitors—a mainstay of the local economy.

The biggest winner in the figures was the room receipts category, posting a 19.3 percent, or $799, increase. That category had been battered this fiscal year, with double-digit decreases every month until the most recent.

Nicky Gulliford, general manager of the Clarion Inn on Main Street, said the increase reflects January business at the hotel. She estimated that January business was up about 20 percent over January 2011.

"We had a January and February that looked really good," she said.

She said she's feeling a sense of optimism, in part because of those numbers and in part because group bookings for summer are also solid.

"There's indications of positivity," she said, adding that it's impossible to make certain projections, good or bad.

Condominium LOT receipts declined 6.2 percent, for a $487 drop. However, the category is up nearly 8 percent for the year thanks to strong activity over the December holidays.

The "Other Retail" category showed a 10.7 percent increase, or $10,319. Retail has seen increases every month but one; receipts for December activity dropped 1 percent. So far this fiscal year, retail is showing a 7.58 percent increase.

Liquor receipts showed a 16.37 percent drop, or $3,535. The category is up more than 3 percent in fiscal year totals, much of which is attributed to strong holiday sales.

Building materials declined by more than 17 percent, taking in $1,961 less than the same period last year. The category is down 2.45 percent in fiscal year totals.

Rebecca Meany:

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