State of the Season
February 18, 2008
Although Truckee and North Tahoe merchants are experiencing different economic outlooks, they agree the snow is bringing more visitors than last season.
The third quarter of the fiscal year, which ends March 31, is where many North Tahoe businesses make a good percentage of their annual revenue, according to Chief Executive Officer Steve Teshara of the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association.
Teshara’s organization represents 660 small businesses, including lodging properties, and, he said anecdotally, those businesses are seeing greater visitorship this winter season compared to last.
He said the combination of a good snow pack and a string of clear days for motorists is a “very powerful combination” for businesses wishing to make up revenue before a slower forth quarter begins in April.
For the region’s other economic engine, Realtors say the snow and fair weather put buyers in a good mood, which is conducive to sales.
“People are here and they are skiing with their families,” said Russ Baruh, a Coldwell Banker broker.
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When there is good snow coverage, he said, visitors are more likely to stop by a Realtor’s office to see what it would take to own a home in the area.
Over in Truckee though, the retail business doesn’t look as good to Stefanie Olivieri, president of Truckee’s Downtown Merchants Association.
“January was very difficult throughout the downtown area,” Olivieri, who owns three Commercial Row clothing stores, said.
Although February has so far been better for sales, she said one month does not make a trend. High gas prices and the “transient tourist” could be responsible. A transient tourist is a term Olivieri uses to describe an unique Truckee-Tahoe visitor from a nearby urban center who may only spend one to three days in the area, as opposed to one to two weeks in other destination tourist areas.
Olivieri said North Lake Tahoe Resort Association may be seeing more “heads on beds, but that does not mean that they are spending more while they are here.”
If Olivieri’s insights are correct, shorter stays and less frequent visits could mean less robust revenue from Placer County’s transit occupancy tax this quarter.
Olivieri and Teshara indicated the true proof of economic activity in a tourist town is sales tax revenue, figures that have not been tabulated yet.
Meanwhile, Baruh said that while he’s noticing some sales activity, more sellers are turning to a “Band-Aid” solution of converting a for-sale home into a for-lease vacation rental. He said all the vacant homes on the market are converting the area into a renters market with increased competition.