Flagstaff residents say lack of snow has slowed business

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FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — The lack of winter snowfall seems to have slowed business in a northern Arizona city dependent on tourism, according to business owners.

With warmer weather and missing snow on the Flagstaff ground, workers and owners of hotels, retail stores, restaurants and recreational areas said it has been a slower season than normal, the Arizona Daily Sun reported .

The holiday season is usually a high-demand time for Flagstaff hotels, said Ash Patel, who owns three hotels in the city. But this year, the low demand has caused room rates to drop by 20 to 25 percent, he said.

Winter-oriented gear is selling OK at Peace Surplus, employee Brad Shorb said. But in order to keep the items moving off the shelves, the store has held sales that it normally doesn't hold, he said.

"It hasn't been as bad as we thought it was going to be," Shorb said.

While business has been consistent, restaurant and bar owners said it also appears slower than normal. The slower season is linked to the lack of snow, said Kelly Hanseth, manager of the Lumberyard Brewing Company.

"Business has been steady because the town is still active with tourists, but we have seen fewer people," Hanseth said. "We usually have a lot of snowplayers this time of year and no snow means no snowplay."

The Arizona Snowbowl has opened 10 ski runs and four lifts for the holiday season because of its snowmaking capabilities, General Manager J.R. Murray said. Crews have been building up the snow since mid-November.

Murray said less than 2,000 skiers have been visiting the mountain each day since last week — less than the daily 2,800 the slopes typically see between Christmas and New Year's Day.

Without the capability to make snow, Flagstaff Snow Park will have to wait to open until it falls naturally, but interest remains high as people continue to inquire about opening day, owner Jonathan Allen said.

Tourism still appears strong despite the absent snow, said Meg Roederer, a spokeswoman for the Flagstaff Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Sales tax figures, lodging occupancy and the average daily hotel room rate changed in December are unknown as information is still being gathered, Roederer said.


Information from: Arizona Daily Sun, http://www.azdailysun.com/

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