Annual sales up in Snowmass, Aspen in 2015 |

Annual sales up in Snowmass, Aspen in 2015

Jill Beathard
The Aspen Times

The holiday season proved strong for Snowmass Village’s lodges and businesses, boosting revenue for the month of December and ending the year on a positive note.

Snowmass Village ended 2015 with about $180 million in sales reported, a 6.8 percent increase from the prior year, according to a report from the town’s finance department. Aspen businesses reported a total of $666 million in sales, a 7 percent increase from 2014, according to the city’s tax report.

Snowmass’ total sales tax revenue was 1.4 percent higher than the 2015 revised budget anticipated. About half of the town’s sales tax revenue reported was collected in January, February and March, while the next strongest months were December and July.

Sales tax collections and occupancy numbers were about flat in December compared with the same month in 2014. But with a significant boost in sales reported in 2014, that doesn’t necessarily mean a weak month. December 2015 saw about $28 million in sales.

Snowmass’ occupancy rate dropped by 1.9 percent in December, according to a report by resort analytics firm DestiMetrics. Rose Abello, director of Snowmass Tourism, attributed the drop to the village hosting more group business in the early part of the month in 2014. Without that, the total number of guests for the month decreased, but because more visitors came during the latter part of December when rates are higher — on average they paid 2.5 percent more this year — lodging tax revenue rose 4.6 percent.

“Anecdotally, lodging, restaurant and retail people are saying December was really strong,” Abello said.

The Snowmass Village finance department divides sales tax revenue into industry categories. It does not report on individual businesses.

Sectors that saw year-over-year growth in December, in addition to lodging, were restaurants (3.5 percent), general retail (1 percent) and utilities (3 percent). Industries that experienced decreased sales were sports equipment and clothing (3.3 percent); food, drug and liquor (3.2 percent); and the miscellaneous category (1.9 percent).

For 2015 overall, industries that increased their sales were lodging (6.5 percent); restaurants (5 percent); sports equipment and clothing (0.3 percent); food, drug and liquor stores (19.5 percent); and general retail (23 percent).

The special events and miscellaneous categories, which don’t always have collections to report, saw decreases of 25.4 percent and 7.4 percent, respectively, in 2015. Sales tax collections on utilities also decreased in 2015 by 2.4 percent.

The real estate transfer tax fund saw an 11.8 percent increase year-over-year in 2015.

In Aspen, sectors that saw growth in 2015 were accommodations (9 percent); restaurants and bars (5 percent); sports equipment and clothing (2 percent); clothing (4 percent); food and drug stores (2 percent); liquor and marijuana (36 percent); construction (12 percent); luxury goods (9 percent); utilities (3 percent); and automobile (20 percent). Industries with decreased sales in 2015 were general retail (1 percent) and the miscellaneous category (6 percent).

On Tuesday, the Snowmass Village Town Council will be asked to review clarifications to the town’s sales tax code, part of a statewide effort by municipalities, according to a memo from town staff. The edits don’t make any “substantive changes,” the memo says, but rather are intended to make it easier for businesses and consumers to interpret and apply the code.


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