Aspen retail sales jump in January

Rick CarrollAspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – Aspen retailers posted an 8.8 percent increase in January sales over last year’s, ringing up $57.4 million, according to a report the city’s finance department released Wednesday.Likewise, sales taxes revenues improved 8.8 percent, the city said in its report, which also shows a 16.2 percent uptick in lodging tax collections in January over the same month in 2006. Real Estate Transfer Tax collections appeared to be humming along through February, reeling in $1.7 million earmarked for the housing fund. That’s 44 percent ahead of collections through the first two months of 2006 and 81 percent ahead of this year’s budget, the city reported. The Wheeler Opera House portion of the RETT registered $911,297 in collections through the first two months of the year – 24 percent ahead of collections through February 2006 and 78 percent ahead of this year’s budget, data shows. Meanwhile, the restuarant/bars and utilities industries showed little gain over last year, while food and drugstores, general retail and liquor stores all posted double-digit percentage increases.”Although Aspen’s economic outcomes for January were mixed, they represent a very healthy start for 2007,” Paul Menter, the city finance director, wrote in the report.Menter theorized that the restaurant/bar industry may be tapering off because of the “sharp increase” in sales for food and drugstores, and liquor stores, which posted gains of 19 percent and 10 percent, respectively. The general retail industry demonstrated the most significant gain in January – 37 percent over January 2006. Menter attributed the boost to “sales related to construction, remodeling, home furnishing, and associated leasing company activities.”Retail sales in January were as follows:• Tourist accommodations (lodges, hotels, etc.) – $20.5 million , up 18 percent over January 2006• Restaurants/bars – $10 million, up 1 percent• Sports equipment/clothing – $4.5 million, up 3 percent• Clothing stores – $5 million, down 3 percent• T-shirt stores – $241,629, down 28 percent• Fur stores – $209,551, down 5 percent• Liquor stores – $817,238, up 10 percent• Utilities – $3.9 million, down 1 percent• General retail -$2.8 million, up 37 percent• Specialty retail – $3.3 million, down 5 percent• Jewelry -$871,441, up 47 percent• Galleries – $150,113, down 50 percent• Food and drugstores – $4.9 million, up 19 percent• Miscellaneous – $197,486, down 9 percentRick Carroll can be reached at