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Main Street reports flat sales over summer

Summer has come and gone, and in its wake businesses on Park City’s Main Street are tallying the final score, asking just how good summer sales were this year. While each business be it restaurant, art gallery or retail will see its own unique sales trend, the consensus is that sales were either flat or slightly up from the year before.

According to data collected by the Historic Park City Alliance (HPCA), businesses reported that during major events throughout the summer sales were on par with what they saw last year.

Despite the fact that events on Main Street are growing in size, the impact for businesses has been limited, based on responses from businesses. For Savor the Summit, the first weekend of the Park Silly Market, the Park City Food and Wine Stroll, the Triple Crown Parade and the Tour of Utah, many businesses said that sales were normal. Only for the Park City Kimball Arts Festival did a majority of businesses respond that sales were up.

"I have heard people are doing very well overall this summer," said Alison Butz, the HPCA Executive Director. "It’s on event days that we’re seeing business was flat."

Anecdotally, Butz said she’s not hearing many complaints and that she expects sales were either similar to or slightly up from last year.

"Business has increased just a little bit for us," said Park City Clothing Company owner Doug Hollinger. "You never like flat sales. You want sales to be up but I think with how the economy is right now, flatter sales still feel pretty good. It’s something we can live with."

The previous summer, Hollinger estimated that business picked up by at least 13 percent, a fact he takes into account when looking at sales trends from year to year. Park City Clothing Company was flat in May, June and July but outperformed in August compared to the same time last year, he said. Hollinger added that was in part due to customers stopping in from their conventions or weddings, not the major events hosted in Park City.

"We’ll see how the rest of this month goes," he said. "There might not be as many people buying from us, but the sales we are doing are much bigger. The customers we do have seem to be spending more."

Kristen Moss, co-owner of Flight Boutique, saw a similar trend.

"I think business was steady," Moss said. "July was slower than normal and it’s usually one of the busier months for us with the arts festival and the gallery strolls."

"It does seem like business is getting steadier overall," she added. "Instead of having a super slow May or June, business is flattening out from month to month. And that’s good because we want to be a year-round business."

Overall, visitor numbers at Park City area lodging properties were mixed earlier this summer. According to data collected by the Park City Chamber/Bureau, lodging properties saw an influx of visitors for the month of June, jumping from 179,532 visitor nights in 2011 to 245,961 visitor nights in 2012. July dropped in visitor numbers from last year to this year, from 364,023 in 2011 to 306,201 in July.

"Because we got an earlier summer with the warm weather we experienced this spring, that catapulted us into a strong start to the summer season," said Jesse Shetler, owner of the No Name Saloon. "We experienced some very good business in May, a month where we are usually pretty flat."

Shetler said that overall sales have increased by the double digits, but that sales have not increased on event days from last year.

"For me, the arts festival was par for the course," he said. "I didn’t see an increase or a drop, just the same as we do every year. With the Tour of Utah, I saw a little bit of an increase."

According to business responses, the impact an event had on sales had little to do with whether or not businesses wanted that event to return. HPCA will collect surveys from businesses on how the entire summer fared for sales later this month.

"Being this fun, friendly and vibrant destination that promotes us, Park City Main Street, as a fun place to be," Butz said. "Even with some of the events that have negative response for the impact on sales, we always get positive responses on whether or not they want to see that event return next year. We want them back."


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