Aspen retailers see September decline

Staff report
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – Aspen retail sales were 6 percent lower in September compared with the same month last year, according to the city’s monthly consumption tax report released Tuesday.

Retailers collectively reported $35.46 million in taxable sales, down $2.3 million from September 2011’s $37.76 million, according to the report.

For the year to date, through September, retail sales were up 7 percent compared to the first three-quarters of 2011.

City of Aspen Finance Director Don Taylor did not provide a possible reason for the decrease in his report. However, last year local business operators and others noted that September 2011’s fall colors were a considerable tourism draw, while this year’s colors were not considered quite as impressive, a possible effect of the spring drought.

In fact, September 2012 featured five Saturdays and five Sundays, while the same month a year ago included only four Saturdays and four Sundays.

The last time the city experienced drop in sales (compared with the same month a year earlier) was 16 months ago in April 2011, according to Chris Lundgren of the city’s Finance Department.

As for September of this year, declines were realized in the areas of accommodations (12.5 percent), restaurants and bars (8.4 percent), clothing (5.9 percent), food and drug (7.1 percent), liquor (3.1 percent), general retail (2.4 percent), specialty retail (7.0 percent) and jewelry-gallery-fur (16.1 percent). Gains occurred in construction (4.4 percent) and utilities (1.3 percent).

Economists often point out that consumer spending often drops in the months prior to a U.S. presidential election due to anxieties surrounding the nation’s future leadership.

In August, city retailers reported sales of $48.78 million, a 4 percent increase compared with $47.07 million in the same month a year earlier. In late August, the city hosted two days of events involving the USA Pro Challenge, a seven-stage bicycle race that draws thousands of visitors, compared with only one day last year.