The Historic Park City Alliance business community was told at this week’s board meeting that lodging numbers were down 50% last month.
Local businesses did expect to take a hit in January with the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing and the Sundance Film Festival moving to an all-virtual model -- the question was just how big that hit would be.
At this week’s meeting of the Historic Park City Alliance, the board was told by the Park City Chamber Bureau that lodging was down by about 50% last month, largely due to the absence of Sundance crowds.
Although the loss was expected, it still stung, said HPCA Executive Director Alison Kuhlow.
“I do believe that’s what we were expecting for no Sundance, it’s just hard when you see that number on paper,” Kuhlow said. “But when you look at February and especially March, we’re really starting to see those numbers come back and fingers crossed that everyone can stay healthy and everything can stay open so we can have those visitors here.”
Despite the less than ideal January, Kuhlow said recent snowstorms could mean a last-minute increase in ski and snowboard visitors for the rest of February and into March. She added the first indication of that surge was a better than expected President’s Day weekend.
“We had heard that occupancy was around 80%,” said Kuhlow. “The businesses saw a lot of great traffic during that time from visitors and so I feel like it was a successful President’s Day weekend, or as successful as we can underneath the conditions.”
Official sales tax numbers released earlier in February showed a strong November bringing in over $1.1 million for the city. December numbers are expected to be released later this month. Kulhow said early indicators point towards a strong holiday season for local businesses, but the absence of Sundance is likely going to be felt across all sectors of the local economy.
“I believe December, especially during the Christmas holiday, was very good for the local businesses,” she said. “January, of course, you know, is down and that is our biggest month, especially with Sundance and that’s not any kind of business that we can gain back other than through an event like Sundance.”
Sales tax numbers are released by the Utah State Tax Commission on a two month delay. Official January numbers won’t be released until March.