Aspen retail sales, tax collections continue to climb
December 7, 2011
ASPEN – Historically, October is one of the slowest months Aspen faces in terms of business activity and sales tax collections by the city.
While that’s still the case, retail sales and tax receipts were significantly higher in the 10th month of this year compared with October 2010, according to the city’s monthly consumption tax report released Tuesday.
Retail sales rose 6.3 percent to $20.97 million, compared with $19.72 million in the same month last year. Through the first 10 months of 2011, retail sales have totaled $401.93 million, a 5.9 percent increase when compared with $379.36 million for January to October a year ago.
The city’s 2.1 percent sales tax garnered $448,462 in October, a 12.1 percent increase compared with the monthly collection of $400,185 a year ago. Late payments typically account for the disparity between the overall sales increase and the higher percentage in tax collections.
Year-to-date revenues from the 2.1 percent city sales tax through October were $8.43 million, a 6.4 percent increase compared with $7.92 million through 10 months of 2010.
As for sales categories, the big winners in October and their percentage increases compared with the same month last year were: construction, 49 percent; automobile sales, 17 percent; miscellaneous, 15 percent; sports equipment/clothing, 14 percent; and clothing, 10 percent.
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Two retail sectors saw 6 percent decreases: accommodations and restaurants/bars.
The city’s assistant finance director, Ashley Ernemann, said lodge and hotel bookings were higher in October compared with last year. The reason for the overall drop in accommodations, she said, can be traced to a slight decline in services booked by local lodges and hotels, such as banquet and food sales, spa treatments, weddings and other items.
“But the number of people staying in hotel rooms was up,” she said, a point verified by increases in city lodging tax collections compared with October 2010.
May is the slowest month of the year with regard to city sales and lodging tax collections, Ernemann said. Three other shoulder-season months – April, October and November – follow. All other months are part of the busy summer or winter tourist seasons.
As for the decline in restaurant/bar sales, Ernemann said some eating and drinking establishments that were open in October 2010, such as Bentley’s at the Wheeler, Pitkin County Steakhouse and Tavern, and the Papa John’s pizza franchise, were no longer in business two months ago.