In March, Aspen retailers walloped the previous sales record for the month, set before the Great Recession took hold of the local economy.
The city’s consumption tax report released Monday shows sales of $74.53 million, a 9.2 percent increase over March 2013’s $68.24 million. A look back at city Finance Department records over the past 10 years shows that the previous high for March was set in 2008, when $68.56 million in sales was recorded.
The category of accommodations, reflecting hotel and lodge stays, posted a gain of 14.7 percent, garnering $25.89 million, more than $3 million higher than March 2013’s $22.57 million.
In all, increases were reported in 11 of 13 sales categories. Collectively, restaurants and bars (11.7 percent), clothing (9.8 percent) and jewelry-gallery-fur (28.2 percent) retail operators indicated a significant rise in business. Construction (8 percent) and liquor (7.8 percent) also posted gains.
March generally accounts for about 11 percent to 13 percent of the entire year’s sales and collections, according to Aspen Finance Director Don Taylor’s monthly report to the City Council.
The city’s 2.1 percent sales tax garnered $1.55 million during the month, nearly 11 percent more than $1.4 million collected in the same month last year.
For the first quarter of 2014, the city has recorded $208.29 million in retail sales, more than 7 percent higher than the $194.37 million reported in 2013’s January-to-March period.
March’s $74.53 million accounts for 36 percent of this year’s three-month total. By the end of the year, though, that percentage is expected to drop into the range mentioned in Taylor’s report.