Aspen retailers see another strong June
The Aspen Times
June retail sales in Aspen, a 10-year view
2004 $29.4 million
2005 $33.5 million
2006 $35 million
2007 $40.2 million
2008 $38.8 million
2009 $33.6 million
2010 $34.6 million
2011 $38.1 million
2012 $44.9 million
2013 $44.8 million
Source: Aspen Finance Department
The June retail-sales figures suggest what many in town already know: Summers in Aspen mean big business these days.
According to the city’s monthly consumption tax report, retailers reaped $44.8 million in June, a nominal decrease from June 2012’s $44.9 million. But there’s more to the picture than meets the eye.
That’s because Aspen’s June sales this year and last year are higher than the same month’s sales in each of the eight years previously. Only in 2007 did June retail sales surpass the $40 million mark, placing third over the 10-year period at $40.2 million.
June doesn’t rank in the top half of the 12 months in Aspen’s sales year, according to Chris Lundgren, an accountant with the city’s Finance Department. The six months with higher sales, in order (with some variation depending on the year), are December, January, March, February, July and August, he said. Then comes June.
But June, the start of the increasingly busy summer visitor season, is making its presence known, the numbers suggest. In 2004, for example, June sales only totaled $29.4 million.
June accounts for up to 9 percent of the city’s annual sales, Lundgren said.
“It changes a little by year,” he said of June. “It’s not as good as August, but it’s a little ahead of September.”
The weak sales months in Aspen, during the spring and fall offseasons, are April, May, October and November. With a lack of visitors, and therefore business, many local retailers close during those months for renovations or heavy cleaning or to allow owners, managers and employees to take long vacations.
In the accommodations category — hotel and lodge sales — the first half of June was weak, but the month “finished with a bang,” said Bill Tomcich, president of reservations agency Stay Aspen Snowmass. The city’s figures show a slight increase for the month: $12.3 million this year compared with $12.2 million in June 2012.
Despite a slow start, room bookings picked up in the last half of June, as they usually do, with the arrival of the Food & Wine Classic mid-month and the start of the Aspen Ideas Festival at the end of the month.
“Food & Wine weekend saw a lot of last-minute pickups, and the Ideas Festival gave us a really strong finish, helping to salvage the soft start of the month,” Tomcich said. “The start of June was definitely softer than last year, and I don’t really have any clear explanation as to why. Perhaps part of the problem was that we were in the midst of some pretty heightened concerns about wildfires and there were some fires around the state that may have had an impact on our tourism, curbing business until the rains returned.”
Jack Frey, owner of the Butcher’s Block specialty-foods market on South Spring Street, said June was busy but nothing like July.
“Compared with five or six years ago, I’d say we’re down, just like a lot of the rest of the world,” he said. “The last couple of years we’ve been kind of holding the same, but this summer seems to be a lot busier.”
Other retail sectors that showed gains in June were clothing, construction, liquor and specialty retail. Decreases occurred in the categories of restaurants-bars, sports equipment, general retail, jewelry-gallery-fur, automobile and miscellaneous.
For the first six months of this year, Aspen sales totaled $280.8 million, up 4.8 percent from $267.7 million during the January-to-June period of 2012.
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Riders must transfer buses to get from Aspen to Snowmass this week; uphill travel closes at Aspen Mountain and reopens at Aspen Highlands.