February 20, 2014 | Vol. 40, No. 8

Business leaders optimistic about increase sales

Sales increased for local Petersburg businesses by more than $14 million in 2013 compared to 2012.

Business across town such as Viking Travel, Diamante Gift Shoppe and Hammer & Wikan all experienced increased sales.

Lee Corrao, manager of the Hammer & Wikan hardware store, said 2013 sales increased by four percent over the previous year.

“A significant amount of that is attributed to the fishing season,” Corrao said. “All of the fish processing plants were operating and there were more boats.”

Southeast Alaska saw the highest harvest value for salmon in the state.

Corrao said average sales were only up by 25 cents but the customer count increased by around 1,400.

“The bump from fishing generally runs through the end of August, in terms of commercial fish sales,” Corrao said. “The whole store runs fairly well through September. Last year we just stayed steady. We were up (in sales) 10 out of 12 months. It was very steady activity. This year we’re continuing to see those kinds of trends.”

Corrao said more than 200 additional customers have visited the hardware store this February compared to last and he’s optimistic about future business.

Based on Petersburg Borough sales tax figures, tourism related sales also increased by 25 percent—with charter and travel up 54 percent.

Dave Berg, president of Viking Travel, said the Petersburg tourism industry experienced an increase in charter tours, independent tours and independent visitors.

“As we talk to people who are interested in coming to Alaska we can direct them to smaller towns along the way like Petersburg and away from larger cruise ships,” Berg said. “That’s a good thing for town. People are staying overnight and eating at restaurants and going on day tours.”

Berg also said he expects these trends to continue. The 80-passenger cruise ship “The Legacy” is scheduled for ten ports of call this year compared to two stops in 2013.

“Ships like that come in and passengers need more services with respect to transfers, a shuttle bus, tours, etc.,” Berg said.

The borough collected more than $220,000 in additional sales tax in 2013 compared to 2012.

Of the $115 million worth of 2013 Petersburg sales, more than $66 million of those dollars were exempt from sales tax.

A sales tax ordinance committee has been meeting monthly to discuss recommended changes to the borough’s sales tax ordinance. It meets Feb. 25 at noon in the assembly chambers to make its final recommendations to the borough assembly.

The sales tax exemption for residents older than 65 and additional taxes on alcohol and tobacco will be discussed at the meeting.

Any recommended changes will go to the borough assembly for approval and ultimately to the voters for a final determination.

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