August 16, 2013 Updated: August 19, 2013 at 12:48 pm
Consumer spending in Colorado Springs remained strong in June, increasing 7.13 percent from a year ago, according to a report on sales tax collections released Friday by the city's Finance Department.
July sales tax collections, based on sales in June, extended a string of consecutive increases from the same month a year earlier to 19, and showed little effect from the Black Forest fire, which hit in mostly unincorporated areas of El Paso County in June, but could have reduced tourist visits to the city much in the same way the Waldo Canyon fire did last year.
Collections for July and August last year, reflecting the months when the Waldo Canyon fire destroyed nearly 350 homes in the Mountain Shadows neighborhood, were much weaker with increases of 2.26 percent and 0.84 percent, respectively, from the same months a year earlier.
"This points to a strong real estate market, consumer confidence and overall economy," said Fred Crowley, senior economist for the Southern Colorado Economic Forum.
For the year to date, sales tax collections are up 8.02 percent to $61.1 million. Use tax collections - from manufacturing equipment, building materials and other items bought outside the city - are up 2.43 percent from a year earlier to $870,571, but would have declined without $38,690 in revenue resulting from audits of merchants that required additional payments.
Combined sales and use tax collections for July were up 6.78 percent from a year ago to $12.4 million, and so far this year are up 8.55 percent from the same period a year ago to $65.5 million.
When adjusted for inflation, combined sales and use tax collections this year are the highest since 2007, according to Finance Department calculations.
Why it's important: Sales and use tax collections fund more than half of the city's annual budget for police and fire protection, roads and other services. Sales tax also is a primary measurement of consumer spending, making it a key barometer of the local economy.
The breakdown: Industry categories with the largest percentage increase in July from a year ago were building materials, up 21.53 percent; furniture, appliances and electronics, up 14.15 percent, and auto dealers, up 8.8 percent.
Industries with declines were commercial machines, down 13.28 percent; department and discount stores, off 8.37 percent, and utilities, down 1.92 percent.
Medical marijuana: Sales tax collections from marijuana businesses in July rose 22.92 percent from a year ago to $107,749 and so far this year are up 22.92 percent from the same period a year ago to $636,519.
Tourism tax: July collections of the city's tax on hotel rooms and rental cars were up 2.37 percent from a year earlier to $506,300. Bed-and-car tax collections so far this year are up 2.8 percent to $1.82 million.
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