Aspen retail sales drop in November |

Aspen retail sales drop in November

ASPEN ” Aspen retailers generated $21.2 million in sales in November, down 1.6 percent from November 2006, according to a report released this week by the city of Aspen’s finance department. Sales tax collections for the city dipped, at a clip of 1.3 percent, for the same month.

Even so, the year’s first 11 months saw a 6.3 percent uptick in retail sales over the same period in 2006, and sales tax collections are up 6.1 percent, wrote Barry Crook, the city’s interim finance director, in the report.

Crook also noted that November retail activity does not bring in a significant portion of sales tax collections for the year.

“Historically, November represents an average of 4.3 percent of our total annual sales tax revenues,” he wrote. “At this time of our fiscal year, we usually have an average of 85.43 percent of our total sales taxes collected for the year … In off-season months, it is usually advisable to concentrate on the year-to-date trends instead of individual monthly performances.”

Crook went on to report that the city, which has collected $9.5 million in sales taxes through November, is on pace to reel in $11.2 million for the entire 2007. Retail sales and collections tallies for December, an historically busy month for retailers, are expected to be available next month.

Most of the city’s 14 retail sectors have enjoyed gains in 2007, the report shows.

Representing 28.5 percent of retail sales for the first 11 months of 2007, the tourist accommodations sector has reeled in $123 million in sales, a 9 percent boost over the same period in 2006. Aspen’s second biggest retail industry, restaurants and bars, also appeared to be humming along, drawing $76.8 million in sales, good enough for a 2.5 percent improvement over the first 11 months of 2006.

The most notable industry declines came in the sports equipment and clothing sector, which dipped 5 percent during the same period with $24.7 million in sales; utilities and communications, which rang up $32 million and dropped 4 percent; and specialty retail, which was down 6 percent with $25.8 million in revenue.

Other city coffers “those earmarked for the lodging tax and real estate transfer taxes ” showed mixed results.

Collections of the 1 percent lodging tax through November totaled $26,046, a 3.8 percent improvement over November 2006. For the first 11 months of the year the city has collected $993,703 in lodging taxes, up 8.7 percent for the year, and 2.4 percent above the city’s budgeted lodging tax revenues.

Tallies for the two portions of the real estate transfer tax ” half of which funds the housing coffer, the other portion designated for the Wheeler Opera House ” are in for the entire year, but the city is behind in collections, Crook reported.

The housing portion brought in $9.8 million in 2007, which was 22 percent ahead of budget but 12 percent behind in collections compared to 2006. Likewise, collections for the Wheeler Operate House, which were $6.3 million, lagged 16 percent behind in collections compared to 2006, but were 29 percent ahead of budget.

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