Aspen retail sales off to strong start |

Aspen retail sales off to strong start

Carolyn Sackariason
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” Consumption is on the rise in Aspen.

The city’s January sales tax and lodging tax is showing healthy increases from 2007 in almost all categories, according to Barry Crook, the city’s interim finance director.

Sales tax collections for January were up 13 percent from the same time last year. Lodging tax collections were up 16.9 percent.

January retail sales are $65,839,905. Double-digit increases were realized in five of the major industry categories: tourist accommodations are up 17 percent; sports equipment and clothing stores are up 25 percent; clothing stores up 23 percent; general retail and construction is up 12 percent, and utilities and communications are up 15 percent.

“While this is definitely an auspicious beginning for Aspen’s 2008 economy, it is much too early to read a lot into these impressive beginnings, but it does indicate that people are coming to Aspen and they are spending their tourist dollars,” Crook wrote in his consumption tax report. “The year is off to a good start.”

Restaurant and bars, which have seen steady declines in recent months, were up almost 8 percent in January sales over 2007. The only declines reflected in January sales tax collection are liquor stores, which are down 1 percent and specialty retail stores, down 6 percent.

Aspen’s year-to-date portion of Pitkin County’s 2 percent sales tax collections for last year didn’t fare as well, reflecting a 7.5 percent decline for December ” with total collections of $7,075,917 for the year. That’s up 5.4 percent for 2007 over the previous year.

Crook noted that those revenues do not solely mirror the current economic trends in Aspen because they are derived from an allocation formula based on a combination of factors, including the economic experiences of Pitkin County, Aspen and Snowmass over the past two to three years.

The year-to-date housing real estate transfer tax collections through February are $878,468, and currently are running 49 percent behind collections for the same period in 2007 and are 20 percent behind the year-to-date budget.

The year-to-date Wheeler Opera House real estate tax collections through February are $475,105 and are running 48 percent behind collections for the same period in 2007, and are 11 percent behind the 2007 year-to-date budget target.


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