Aspen retail sales up over last year |

Aspen retail sales up over last year

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – Aspen’s retail sales in May totaled $16.2 million, a 3 percent increase over sales in the same month last year, according to the city’s monthly consumption tax report released Wednesday.

At 3 percent, the monthly sales increase is tracking at the same pace as the year-to-date increase. Through May this year, the city’s hotels, eating and drinking establishments and other retail entities have tallied $204.7 million in receipts, the report states. During the first five months of last year, sales totaled $198.6 million, according to the May 2010 report.

Sales from accommodations, or lodging, were significantly lower in May compared with May 2010. The $1.6 million pulled in two months ago represents a 25 percent decrease compared with the same month last year, the report states.

In the food-and-drug category, sales were just shy of $2 million, an 18 percent decrease compared with May of last year. In recent months, city officials have attributed the slide in food sales to the massive renovations over the last year at City Market, one of only two grocery stores in Aspen. The work was completed last month.

Categories that realized significant gains include: jewelry/gallery/fur (59 percent), general retail (39 percent), specialty retail (18 percent) and clothing (12 percent).

The report also suggests good news for city tax revenues: Aspen’s portion of Pitkin County’s 3.6 percent sales tax for the January-to-April period is 7 percent higher when compared with the collection for the first four months of 2010. The May share is not reflected in the report because the city doesn’t receive its portion of the county tax until it is first collected by the state.

The report notes that housing real estate transfer tax (RETT) collections through June are up 23 percent compared with last year. Wheeler Opera House RETT collections through May are 24 percent higher. “Wide fluctuations in (RETT) are the norm,” Aspen Finance Director Don Taylor said in a memorandum.

The city’s 2.1 percent sales tax garnered $348,820, a 5 percent increase when compared with the same month last year, the report states. Like the month before it, May is considered part of Aspen’s “shoulder season,” a time when the city sees far fewer visitors than it does during the winter and summer tourism seasons.

For the first five months of 2011, the 2.1 percent tax has pulled in $4.33 million, a 4 percent increase when compared with $4.17 million during the January-to-May period a year ago.

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