Fabulous Fourth

People flood the streets of downtown Flagstaff Wednesday aftet the Fourth of July parade. (Jake Bacon/Arizona Daily Sun)

Jake Bacon

Tourists visiting Flagstaff helped to set a record in July, despite high gasoline prices.

Revenues from the city's 2 percent Bed, Board and Beverage tax set a new record in July, up 3 percent from July 2011, according to information released by the city of Flagstaff.

The month of July, the most recent month for which data is available, was a decent month for other local businesses, too, with overall retail activity, excluding utilities, up 4 percent compared to a year ago.

Sales were still down roughly 10 percent compared with July 2007, the peak pre-recession year.

Heather Ainardi, the director of the Flagstaff Convention and Visitor's Bureau, said three other measures of the local tourism market were also strong from the month. She said revenue per available room, occupancy rates and the average daily rate paid for a hotel room all increased during the month of July when compared with the same month a year ago.

The weather, said Ainardi, played a role for regional tourists coming up from the Valley.

"We had absolutely wonderful weather here in Flagstaff," she said.

Summer monsoons did occasionally darken the skies in July, with a total of 3.45 inches of rain falling during the entire month at Pulliam Airport.

She said many tourists came from the Valley in order to escape the triple-digit temperatures.

"One of the things that we are really hearing is that you don't have to come to Flagstaff for anything, you can come and not have an agenda and enjoy every event and every program," Ainardi said.

Ainardi said the last fiscal year, which ended on June 30, also set a record for BBB revenue generated since the city put the tax in place in 1988.

She predicts the trend to continue in the near future, noting conference bookings for 2014 are up and travel groups have plans to increase their trips to Flagstaff in 2013.

One of the largest jumps in revenue continues to come from auto sales, up 15 percent from last July. Local auto dealers have seen growth in overall revenues in the local market for nearly two years, with the city reporting 22 months of consecutive growth in sales when compared to the same period a year ago.

Year-over-year growth was seen in most retail industries in July, although reported taxable sales from big box stores were essentially flat.

Mom and pop stores, classified as small retailers, saw a 7 percent increase in sales during the same period.

Even construction-related activities were up in July, with the city reporting a 2 percent increase in revenues.

The figure is still 44 percent below the peak of the market, when builders were struggling to keep up with demand during the housing bubble.

The city's home furnishings sector, up 33 percent from five years ago, reflects the opening of Ashley Furniture HomeStore near the Flagstaff Mall roughly two years ago.

July is the most recent month for which citywide tax figures are available.

Joe Ferguson can be reached at 556-2253 or jferguson@azdailysun.com.


Flagstaff taxable sales, July 212

Industry 12 vs 11 12 vs 07
Construction 2% -44%
Large Retail 0% -10%
Small Retail 7% -15%
Grocers -3% -16%
Auto sales 15% 5%
BBB 3% 10%
Clothing 2% -5%
Home Furnishings -11% 31%
Rev From Total Sales w/o utilities 4% -10%
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