Aspen retail sales nosedive in December, but 2020 ends down 6.9% from previous year
Both December and year-end totals for 2020 showed overall drops in retail sales in Aspen, according to a report issued Thursday by the city Finance Department. These charts break down sales performance by business sectors in both December and the entire 2020. (Source: Finance Department, city of Aspen)
December retail sales in Aspen plummeted by 37.3% to cap off a year that saw an overall decrease of 6.9% because of pandemic restrictions enacted to stem the spread of COVID-19 cases.
The city Finance Department’s monthly tax consumption report, which came out Thursday, also showed December accounted for $94.7 million in taxable sales. December 2019 saw $118.6 million in sales, according to older tax reports.
The steep decrease in 2020’s final month was attributable to the county’s move into Red-level restrictions Dec. 21, noted Anthony Lewin, the city’s senior tax auditor, in the report. Restaurants were exempt from Red status at the time, and allowed to continue serving at a 25% capacity level indoors.
“With the Board of Public Health decision to move into level Red restrictions on Dec. 21, Aspen’s December tourism-centric economy experienced a one-third drop in local spend,” Lewin wrote. “This drop was again felt most pointedly in the lodging and restaurant industries.”
Lewin’s write-up also noted sharp declines in occupancy rates at “traditional lodge offerings” — hotels and lodges — which were “hovering just over 40%.” Historically over the past five years, December occupancy rates have ranged from 60% to 62%, Lewin reported.
Overall accommodations, which also included short-term rentals at condos and private residences, amounted to $20.6 million in December, which was 43.7% lower than the $36.2 million generated in December 2019.
Restaurants brought in $10.7 million, down 33% from $15.9 million in December 2019.
The entire 2020 wasn’t nearly as bad as December, with $766.2 million in sales compared with $819.8 million in 2019.
Accommodations for the year amounted to $177 million in sales. When matched with $236 million in 2019, that’s a 25.3% falloff. Restaurants and bars were at $122.8 million for the year, 11.6% down from $138.9 million in 2019. Worth noting is that bars were closed for most of 2020 and remain that way.
One bright spot was in liquor sales, which were 21.4% higher than 2019’s totals. Liquor stores posted $13.3 million in sales in 2020, compared with $10.9 million in 2019, according to the report.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
A piece of West End property is the subject of a federal lawsuit filed by an Aspen law firm on behalf of a local hotel developer and operator.