Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Limon prospers from tourist dollars

By Will Bublitz

While many of its residents do their shopping in Front Range retail stores, Limon is still strong economically because the vast majority of retail sales come from travelers stopping here for fuel, food and lodging.

That was the conclusion of a study by two academic researchers from the Colorado State University who presented their findings at the Thursday, Dec. 6 meeting of the Limon Board of Trustees.

Dr. Martin Shields, Professor of Economics, and Michael Marturana, a CSU Economic Researcher, presented the results of their Limon Retail Leakage Study during a 40-minute presentation at the board meeting.

“A lot of your retail sales comes from outside, which is a good position to be in,” Shields said. “Your sales tax has grown a little over time. What is impressive is that this is happening while your population has declined.”

Limon’s per capita retail sales has risen despite a decrease of the town population over the past 10 years. Currently, the town’s retail sales per capita is  $16,034.

“This is pretty remarkable growth,” Shields said.

In the study, the researchers compared Limon (population 1,874) with five other Colorado towns similar in population size, population growth and within a one-hour drive of a larger retail shopping area. These towns are Burlington (4,091), Elizabeth (1,356), Holyoke (2,281), Paonia (1,424) and Yuma I3,534).

Of those towns, the study showed that Limon was by far the leader for retail sales for gas stations/truck stops as well as their associated convenience stores, gift shops and restaurants.

“Travelers represent a large share of Limon’s retail sales tax base,” Marturana said. “These gas stations, truck stops and associated stores make up almost three quarters or 73 percent of retail sales. This is significantly more than the comparison towns.”

Another 6.9 percent of Limon’s retail sales comes from the food and beverage businesses which are separate from the gas stations/truck stops.

Employment in retail sales takes up 21.9 percent  of the available workforce in Limon, which is the largest among the comparison towns. For the state of Colorado, 11.1 percent of the workforce is employed in retail sales.

The study also concluded that gas station/truck stop employment in Limon is 24 times greater than in the rest of the state.

The second part of Shield’s and Marturana’s retail study dealt with Limon residents’ shopping habits and attitudes. The survey was conducted online after each household received a invitation letter to participate.

“We received a 30-percent response rate, which was pretty impressive,” Marturana said. “Normally, if you get a 20-percent response, that’s very good.”

In the responses, the residents rated the following as the best retail businesses in Limon – gas stations, restaurants, automotive parts and/or service, flowers, and building materials/hardware/lawn and garden materials.

As for other goods and services, many of the survey respondents said they did a large part of their shopping elsewhere. The types of merchandise/services and the percentage of those shopping outside Limon are:

Pharmacy and personal necessities (glasses, hearing aids, etc.) 51 percent; jewelry 51; cosmetics 59; books/cards 59; grocery 60; office supplies 62; sporting goods or toys 65; entertainment/music 65, appliances 69; electronics 79; home furnishings and furniture 79; and clothing 91.

The majority of those shopping outside Limon said they traveled to either the Denver Metro Area or Colorado Springs.

As part of the survey, Shields and Marturana asked residents what would motivate them to shop more in Limon. Fifty-four percent of respondents said they would do so if there were more sales or better prices; 47 percent desire a better selection of merchandise; 33 percent want new types of stores to open; and 26 percent said an improvement in the quality of goods is necessary to attract more shoppers.

Of the types of businesses they wanted to see opened or expanded in Limon, 60 percent of those surveyed said the grocery as their first choice. The other choices included a clothing store (32 percent), department store (30 percent) and restaurant (18 percent).

Shields and Marturana said many of the respondents raised the issue of possibly locating a Wal-Mart store in Limon. While saying the decision to locate one here was not impossible, the two researchers said this was unlikely to happen because the Wal-Mart corporation looks first at the population density of an area to decide whether it can be commercial success.

To demonstrate Limon’s population density problem,  Shields and Marturana compared it to Lamar, another Eastern Colorado town which does have Wal-Mart store. Within a five-mile radius, Lamar has a population of 9,163 while Limon has 2,795. Expanding to a 10-mile radius, Lamar’s population density is 10,340, while Limon is 3,447. At 25 miles, the population density of Lamar is double (12,417) that of Limon (6,577). 


  1. American dollars are a boon to the local tourism industry of any countries. In the 3 star hotel london, you can pay via Dollars for mastercard holders.

  2. A lot of countries progressed immensely because of foreign dollars. Me and my wife actually plan to get cheap flights to zanzibar to have the holidays there. An added two people can already have a significant change in their tourism industry.

  3. If able, people would pay for anything as long as they achieve theyir order fulfillment . Most especially if you're in a new place, you'll always settle for convenience without minding the cost.

  4. I hope they aren't that much particular about gay couple traveling around. I think it's also one thing that is booming right now. Once the place is gay-friendly, it can attract a lot of tourists from all over the world.

    Mischna Ong