May didn’t feel like a typical spring offseason month in Aspen, and retail-sales figures prove it.
Aspen retailers reported $21.69 million in sales for May, a 9.3 percent increase compared with $19.84 million in the same month last year, according to the city’s monthly consumption tax report released Thursday.
In fact, sales connected with the fifth month of the year have been on a steady climb each year since May 2010’s $15.75 million. The $21.69 million figure also is likely the highest total for May in Aspen’s history. The city’s modern reporting system for sales and sales tax information began in 2004, when the city recorded $13.38 million in retail activity for May.
Gains were realized in 12 retail categories: accommodations (3.7 percent), restaurants and bars (2.6 percent), sports equipment and clothing (20.3 percent), clothing (13.9 percent), construction (14.3 percent), food and drug (7.2 percent), liquor (1.2 percent), specialty retail (0.2 percent), jewelry-gallery-fur (35 percent), utilities (4 percent), automobile (35.6 percent) and miscellaneous (30.7 percent).
Only one decrease was recorded, in the category of general retail (down 5.6 percent).
Year-to-date retail sales, as reflected through the first five months of the year, paced 8.6 percent ahead of last year’s January-to-May period. The city reported $256.5 million, slightly more than $20 million higher than 2013’s $236.3 million.
The city’s 2.1 percent sales tax garnered $469,374, nearly $50,000 higher (an 11.6 percent gain) than May 2013’s $420,466.
While the increases in sales and sales taxes are significant in terms of the month itself, they don’t compare to busy winter summer months such as January and July. May generally accounts for 3 to 4 percent of Aspen’s annual sales, a city Finance Department memorandum said.
For example, the city reported retail sales of $69.6 million in January and $60.1 million in July 2013.