The City of Sturgis with cooperation from city, county and state officials, as well as surrounding Black Hills communities, has released the 68th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Report. Attendance, sales tax, vendor fees and sponsorship revenues showed a remarkable resiliency in face of increase of 47% in the price of gasoline and general economic uncertainly. Following a recent trend Sturgis saw increased motorcycle traffic in the weeks preceding the event with many retailers in the area reporting sales were up from 2007, an extraordinary second year increase. The City’s sales tax was up 18% year to date in July suggesting that the unofficial Rally is starting earlier in the summer.While state sales tax numbers were down 25.7% for the official Rally week, Sturgis sales tax figures saw a much smaller decrease, only down 7.6%. The incredible part of the Rally sales tax being down 7.6% is that the City’s sales tax was up 3% year to date after the Rally. This indicator shows strength in the Sturgis retail sales market. Sturgis did see a 14.8% decrease in vendor licenses and an 11.5% decrease in vendor fees collected from those exhibitors.
Traffic counts submitted by the Department of Transportation show Rally numbers in the Sturgis area were down 12.1%, and Mount Rushmore’s counts down 25.8%. Thankfully Rally fatalities were also deceased by 40%.The estimated attendance at the 2008 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally was 414,917, down 18.2% from 2007.Pre-Rally jitters had some sources focused on an adjusting motorcycle industry, rising costs in fuel and economic uncertainty, predicting a depressing outlook for the Rally in 08. However considering those complications and the adjustments taking place at all of the large motorcycle events around the country, the 68th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally faired quite well in the face of these economic challenges."We knew we would face some challenges this year but we also took into consideration a robust summer tourist season and the impact a strong Euro and Canadian dollar would have on the event," said director Pepper Massey. "Many exhibitors stated they had record sales and we saw more ATM cash withdrawals this year than in 2007. Attendees and exhibitors commented over and over that it was one of their best Rally experiences and we equate that to a great year for the City."The City of Sturgis would like to thank our Sturgis Motorcycle Rally visitors, vendors and sponsors for helping to make the 68th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally great in 08! We couldn’t have done it without you!