Aspen retail sales up nearly 9 percent in August |

Aspen retail sales up nearly 9 percent in August

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – Retail sales were 8.8 percent higher in August compared with the same month last year, according to the city of Aspen’s monthly consumption tax report released Wednesday.

The percentage represents the third-largest monthly sales increase so far this year. Sales climbed by $3.76 million, from $42.65 million in August 2010 to $46.41 million in August of this year.

While a specific reason for the increase has yet to be identified, city officials have recently speculated that two inaugural events in late August – the USA Pro Cycling Challenge and the Aspen Backcountry Marathon – brought extra visitors and their money to town.

Accommodations, representing bookings for hotels and lodges, were 3 percent higher in August. Restaurants and bars reported a 7 percent boost. Clothing sales saw a 14 percent jump.

“It’s just a better overall retail environment than it was a year ago,” said Ashley Ernemann, the city’s assistant finance director.

A recent business survey that examined the impact of Aspen’s hosting the second stage of the pro bicycle race showed that some businesses benefited from the Aug. 24 event, especially those along the race route. Others saw a decrease compared with the same date last year, while many businesses experienced little or no change.

The marathon, which started and ended at Wagner Park downtown on Aug. 27, drew nearly 200 runners and hundreds of spectators, as well as the families and friends of the entrants.

The general retail category, which includes construction service-related businesses, was up a whopping 45 percent. Ernemann said the category now includes the former BMC West lumberyard operation near the Aspen Business Center, which is within an area recently annexed into the city limits. Denver-based ProBuild Holdings now operates the lumberyard.

Through the first eight months of 2011, retail sales in Aspen have totaled $343.5 million for an estimated 6 percent increase. The city’s 2.1 percent sales tax garnered $7.2 million from January to August, which means it is running at a 5.7 percent pace ahead of last year’s collections during the same period.

For August alone, the 2.1 percent sales tax collection was 10.9 percent higher, climbing from $880,598 in 2010 to $976,609 this year.

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