Remember when complaining about paid parking at Cherry Creek Shopping Center was a popular story earlier this year? Whatever happened to that?

Next asked the city of Denver for sales tax revenue to see how business is doing at the mall.

From January to July this year compared to the same seven months in 2016, Denver has collected $678,096 fewer sales tax dollars.

"I don't know that we can attribute all of that to paid parking," said Cherry Creek Shopping Center General Manager Nick LeMasters. "The first thing you should know is that paid parking has had an effect, one that we fully anticipated on the shopping center. What we see in the sales results is not at all surprising and was exactly where we thought it would be when we did our initial projections."

He said he expected a "settling period' to last as long as one year.

The paid parking went into effect in mid-January. The smart parking technology lets you know how many spaces are open in each row, and leads you to open spots with red and green lights along the ceiling.

RELATED: Paid parking begins at Cherry Creek Mall

The first hour is free. Up to two hours is $3 dollars. You'll pay $4 f you're there three hours. Every hour after that is another $2. The most you'll pay is $16.

"One thing I can say with absolute certainty, is that it's a much more pleasant parking experience today than ever before because parking is easy to find," said LeMasters.

Is that the reason for the sales tax decline?

Of the $678,096 fewer tax dollars, 71 percent of that ($479,129) is from fewer retail and department store sales.

"We have merchant sales from August and September, and the trend is reversing, so we're very encouraged by what we've seen more recently," said LeMasters.

The city's finance department won't have August sales tax figures until the middle of October.

"Our tenants report sales to us on a monthly basis, and what we're seeing is a trend line that is going in the direction that we'd hoped it would," said LeMasters.

The data provided by the city breaks down the revenue by shopping category.

  • Health and personal care stores sales tax collections are down 16 percent ($108,163)
  • Furniture and home furnishing stores are down nine percent ($62,080)
  • Electronics and appliance stores are down five percent ($37,151)
  • Restaurants area down five percent ($31,463)
  • Grocery stores are down one percent ($4,463)

Last month, Safeway -- which is within the footprint of the shopping center -- was notified that its year-to-year lease would not be renewed after the new year.

LeMasters said it has nothing to do with sales tax revenue.

"We had a longstanding contractual agreement with another retailer for that space," said LeMasters. "We do have a contractual relationship that we are bound to honor."

Telecommunications, like cell phone stores, are actually up six percent ($43,366).

Get that. That device that you can use to make purchases and avoid going to the mall altogether is generating more sales at the mall.

"Still today, 9-out-of-10 retail transactions take place in a bricks and mortar environment," said LeMasters. "The most important metric that we evaluate our performance on, are sales."

The U.S. Department of Commerce tracks retail sales. Data from the government backs up LeMasters statistic.

In the first two quarters of 2017, the U.S. Department of Commerce tracked nearly nine percent of all retail shopping happened online.

Just so we're not picking on Cherry Creek, we also checked with the city of Lone Tree. From January to July this year, sales tax collections are more than $5.5 million, but $18,177 fewer dollars than last year.