ASPEN - Retail sales through November were up 7 percent over the first 11 months of 2011, with the impact of December's holiday frenzy yet to be tallied, but it was year-end real estate sales that gave Aspen a huge boost in tax collections.
Revenues from the city's real estate transfer taxes, applied to property transactions, were up more than 200 percent in December, compared to the same month in 2011, while overall collections from the taxes ended the year up about 25 percent, according to city Finance Director Don Taylor.
Retail sales in November alone totaled $22.3 million, up 4 percent compared to the same month in 2011, with notable gains in lodging/hotel accommodations and the restaurant/bar sector. November retail activity, however, generally accounts for about 4 percent of annual sales. The much more significant December receipts, based on sales tax filings yet to be submitted to the city, won't be available for another month.
For November, the accommodations sector posted a 7 percent gain, while restaurant and bar business was up 11 percent. Liquor sales were up 7 percent, general retail receipts were up 28 percent, and sales of construction materials were up 6 percent. The sports equipment/clothing category was down 12 percent for the month, general clothing was down 2 percent, and food/drug sales were down 4 percent.
For the first 11 months of 2012, retail sales in Aspen totaled $453.9 million, according to the city finance office. Accommodations receipts were up 10 percent, and restaurant/bar sales were up 4 percent. Together, they made up about 44 percent of overall sales through November. Sports-equipment/clothing sales were up 12 percent for the year through November, while clothing was up 7 percent, food and drug sales were up 5 percent, and liquor receipts were up 6 percent. General retail was up 24 percent, and the construction category was up 12 percent.
Revenues from the city's 2.1 percent sales tax were up 7 percent over 2011 collections for the first 11 months of the year. Lodging tax collections were up 14 percent.
Real estate transfer tax collections ended 2012 with sizable increases in three of the past four months of the year, capped by a December that saw the sale of several high-dollar downtown properties. Collections from the transfer tax devoted to the city's housing program were up 210 percent in December and 26 percent for the year, bringing $6.5 million into the housing coffers over the course of 2012. The transfer tax devoted to the Wheeler Opera House brought in $3.4 million in 2012, up 24 percent from 2011. December collections of the tax were up 200 percent.