Aspen retailers show gains in September
November 5, 2011
ASPEN – With lots of traffic and visitors flowing around town, it didn’t feel much like the offseason during the month of September.
Proof of that perception might be found in the city of Aspen’s monthly consumption tax report. It shows that overall retail sales were more than 4 percent higher than they were in the same month last year, with purchases at restaurants, bars and shops that sell clothing and sports equipment leading the way. Construction activity also helped fuel the increase.
September business was solid at BB’s Kitchen, a second-floor eatery on East Cooper Avenue, said general manager Mike Favazzo.
“We absolutely felt it,” Favazzo said of the September sales uptick. “Compared with our projected numbers, we did very well.”
BB’s wasn’t open in September 2010 when Favazzo was working at a different restaurant in town. But he said his overall impression is that downtown Aspen was generally busier this year in the weeks after Labor Day compared with the same time last year.
And he gives partial credit to the fall leaves, which were dazzling throughout the area during middle and late September.
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“The leaves changed a little later in the season, and we had a great view from our patio,” Favazzo said. “The weather was just perfect in September this year.”
The city’s retailers took in a combined $35.6 million, a 4.5 percent increase compared with September 2010’s $34.1 million. Restaurants and bars, which accounted for 19 percent of overall local retail activity, experienced a 7 percent uptick. The separate categories of sports equipment and clothing saw increases of 18 percent and 16 percent respectively.
Construction activity, which is now a category of its own in the city Finance Department report, was 69 percent higher. General retail was up 17 percent. Even automobile sales rose, with an 8 percent gain.
But the picture isn’t completely golden. There were decreases in accommodations (14 percent), liquor store sales (3 percent) and luxury goods (52 percent). Luxury goods includes items sold at art galleries and fur and jewelry stores.
“Wide fluctuations in luxury goods taxable retail sales are normal,” the report from Aspen Finance Director Don Taylor states.
The city’s 2.1 percent sales tax garnered $764,908, a 9 percent increase over the $700,014 that was collected in September 2010. The reason for the tax’s higher percentage increase when compared with overall retail sales: extra revenue from late tax filers.
For the first three-quarters of the year, overall retail sales in Aspen are up 6 percent, according to the city’s report.