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Sold! December 2021 was the biggest sales tax month ever in Park City

Sales tax numbers were through the roof last December.

Official December sales tax numbers have been released by the Utah Tax Commission. It was a record-setting holiday season in Park City.

After what seemed like an unusually busy holiday period in Park City, the data has finally arrived to prove it. December 2021 was the biggest month ever for sales tax revenue, bringing in over $2.3 million dollars for the city.

Last December topped January 2020 - the previous record-setting month - by just over $150,000. Park City Senior Financial Data Analyst Eric Daenitz said that was quite the accomplishment given the last record was set before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“You could say that was the peak monthly boom," he said. "Sundance, everything, ski traffic all combined, and we were 6% above that in December.” 

Another measurement that shows just how busy Park City was over the holidays was the amount of transient room tax, or TRT, collected in December. TRT revenue was up 93% compared to December 2020 and beat the previous record by 15%. The Park City Chamber Bureau also reported a near 100% occupancy rate in the city for the week between Christmas and New Years.

The report includes several types of sales taxes, each of which are earmarked to be spent in different ways. For example, sales tax from people shopping goes into the city’s general fund, and TRT taxes go into the capital fund. The city’s tax coffers fund all sorts of projects and ongoing costs.

December’s data clearly shows that people were not shy about visiting or spending money in Park City despite the omicron surge and rising inflation rates across the country.

Daenitz did say that inflation could have been a factor in the higher numbers, since many businesses started raising prices.

Park City has actually been beating pre-pandemic sales tax numbers each month since last March, and Daenitz said he doesn’t see this growth slowing down.

“In 2022, we’re actually projecting a 12.4% increase relative to where we ended 2021, and that’s just based on current momentum in the economy," Daenitz said. "Just to provide you our estimate for 2023, we’re projecting a 9.6% growth relative to 2022. That comes with a lot more uncertainty. It’s a lot further out into the future, but we still see potential upside, although our model suggests below the growth rate that we’re observing at this current moment in time.”

Summit County also released its monthly employment numbers, showing a 1.2% unemployment rate in the county, which a city report says is the lowest in decades.

Historically over the last five years, January, February, and March have all beaten December’s sales tax numbers. Official data is released by the Utah Tax Commission on a two-month delay, so this January’s numbers won’t be known until early April.

It remains to be seen if another Sundance festival cancellation and little snow so far in 2022 will have much impact on the city’s projections.