ASPEN - December represented a significant decline for Aspen retail activity.
Total sales, according to the city's monthly consumption tax report, released Tuesday, were $73.29 million, a 7.4 percent decrease compared with $79.14 million for the same month in 2011.
On a brighter note, total sales for the full year were $527.85 million, a 4.6 percent increase over $504.41 million that retailers recorded for 2011.
December generally accounts for between 14 and 16 percent of a full year's sales and sales tax collections. State and local ski-industry officials have acknowledged recently that the 2012-13 ski season got off to a slower-than-usual start late last year despite much better snowfall in December (34.8 inches at the city's water plant) when compared with the little snow that fell during the same month in 2011 (10.6 inches at the plant).
Forty-two percent of the overall $5.85 million decline from December 2011 to December 2012 was absorbed by the city's restaurants and bars, according to the report. Those establishments took in $11.08 million during the last month of 2011 but only $8.65 million in December 2012 - a 22 percent, $2.43 million hit.
Most of the other retail subcategories experienced losses, including accommodations (4.4 percent), sports equipment and clothing (4.9 percent), clothing (6.9 percent), food and drug (9.4 percent), liquor (5.5 percent), general retail (15.2 percent), specialty retail (14.1 percent) and utilities (21 percent).
However, gains were realized in construction (0.6 percent), jewelry-gallery-fur (10.1 percent) and automobile sales (62.1 percent).
Sales tax collections from December 2011 to December of last year also waned. The city garnered $1.54 million from its 2.1 percent sales tax, a 6.8 percent decrease compared with December 2011's $1.66 million.