Restaurants and Retailers Enjoy Greater Numbers Without Vehicle Traffic
TELLURIDE – A survey conducted by Todd Brown of the Telluride accounting services firm ASAP suggests that Telluride retail merchants and restaurants on Colorado Avenue experience greater sales when Colorado Avenue was closed to vehicle traffic during weekend events. While Brown collected data from only five merchants, he combined this data with five years of data collection from 12 local restaurants to provide historical context and to create a more in-depth analysis.
Brown, who has a master’s degree in statistics, questions the validity of his own survey due to the lack of participants. “There are far too few data points to make this statistically valid. Ideally, there would be a minimum of 25 participants and the data would be collected over several years,” Brown said. He strongly believes, however, the results are indicative of what happens to business sales during street closures.
“This survey was intended to bring some data to the allegations and stories that business owners on Colorado Avenue have been telling for years,” he added. “While I’m disappointed more businesses did not participate, the survey has rekindled many conversations and it will be discussed at the next merchants meeting on Thursday, August 8.”
Brown began collecting data from three retailers located at the west end of Colorado Avenue and two located on the east end between late March into early June, before the arrival of the near 12,000 Telluride Bluegrass Festival with its 12,000 attendance.
End of Ski Season
On Fridays at the end of ski season (late March and early April), Brown’s long-term restaurant data suggest that eateries historically enjoyed 31 percent higher than average sales than on Thursdays and Saturdays. In 2013, overall restaurant revenues during late ski season were 20 percent higher than Brown’s long-term average.
On the day of the KOTO street dance, Friday, April 5, restaurants on the west end of Colorado Avenue saw 62 percent better than average sales for a Friday at the end of the ski season. Restaurants on the east end of Colorado Avenue, however, saw only a three percent increase in sales.
Retailers on the west end of Colorado Avenue saw 65 percent better than average sales while stores on the east end saw an increase of 772 percent. The triple-digit percentage increase on east end is due to a small sample size generating significantly higher than usual sales during this period. Overall, restaurants and retailers in the sample saw a 193 percent increase in business over the long-term seasonal average on the day of the KOTO street dance.
Jerry Greene, owner of Baked in Telluride, believes the higher-than-average retail and restaurant sales in this period was thanks to improved snow conditions.
“The important factor for 2013 is improvement from the disastrous winter of 2011-2012, Greene wrote in an email to a retailers mailing list, and quoted with his permission. “Since the snow pattern were even worse that winter than the year before, this can reasonably be attributed to a change in ski area marketing philosophy,”
“We can be thankful that business is at least steady and not in downturn,” he added.
Late May into June – Before Bluegrass
In the period between late May and into June, typically a slow period before the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Brown’s data show restaurants earning 29 percent higher revenues on Saturdays than Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays. For 2013, however, overall restaurant revenues during the period remained unchanged from the average.
On Saturday, May 25, the day of the Mountainfilm Ice Cream Social, restaurants on the west end of Colorado Avenue had sales 34 percent better than average. Restaurants on the east end also saw higher numbers, earning 24 percent higher than average sales. Retailers on the west end had sales 69 percent better than average, while east end merchants saw sales only an 18 percent increase. Combined, restaurants and retailers saw a 36 percent increase in business over the long-term seasonal average.
The Balloon Glow on the evening of Saturday, June 1, saw 85 percent higher than average restaurant sales on the east end of Colorado Avenue, while the west end saw sales only four percent better than average. During the Balloon Glow, retailers on the west end of Colorado Avenue saw 50 percent better than average sales and east end retailers saw a 22 percent increase in sales. Compared with other street-closing events, the retail participants and restaurants saw only a four percent increase in sales.
At the Ride the Rockies event on Saturday, June 8, restaurants on the west end saw a near-triple digit increase in sales, topping out at a 91 percent increase over the seasonal average. Restaurants on the east end benefited from the bikers as well, seeing a 58 percent increase. Retailers on the west end apparently benefited from the lack of gates; according to the study, businesses saw a 122 percent increase in sales while east end retailers saw only a 13 percent increase. Retailers and restaurants in the sample enjoyed a 64 percent boost in sales.
Events like Ride the Rockies – those involving alcohol (either served or sold) – require a temporary fenced-off area on Colorado Avenue, blocking easy access for attendees to freely shop and enjoy the restaurants. Hearing the demands of many Telluride merchants, the Town of Telluride did not require 2013’s Ride the Rockies to construct a gated zone. Brown believes his data suggest that the loosened regulation on fences facilitated more business at Colorado Avenue retailers and restaurants.
Local retailers expressed frustration that many businesses on the west end of Columbia Avenue saw larger increases in business activity than those on the east side.
“While I am not for total development, we do need a restaurant and hotel on East Colorado Avenue to ‘anchor’ the other end of the commercial,” said Michelle Davis, owner of the AromaSpa Salon & Boutique on East Colorado Avenue, in an email, and quoted here with her permission.
Brown suggests his study implies that individual events boost foot traffic and spur restaurant and retail sales. While weekend events attract visitors, they do very little to improve midweek revenues.
Merchants and restaurateurs looking to participate in upcoming surveys from ASAP can contact Coach@businessasap.com for more information.