Aspen’s October retail sales see big increase |

Aspen’s October retail sales see big increase

Staff report

October, one of the slowest months of the year for retail sales in Aspen, turned out to be solid, according to the city’s monthly consumption tax report released this week.

The Aspen Finance Department reported sales of $24.4 million, an 11.6 percent increase compared with $21.9 million during the same month last year.

Gains occurred in nine of 13 retail categories, including accommodations (54.9 percent), automobile sales (63.2 percent), restaurants and bars (11.4 percent), general retail (8.2 percent) and liquor (5.1 percent).

The Aspen Times reported in mid-October that the month was shaping up well in terms of hotel occupancy. A Sept. 30 report from DestiMetrics, a Denver firm that measures hotel and lodging inventories in resort communities, placed Aspen at 24.8 percent for the month, an 11 percent increase compared with October 2012.

But the slow start to the leaf-lover season — fall colors didn’t kick into gear until late September — spilled a lot of tourism activity into the first half of October, providing a small boost to retailers, restaurants and lodges that remained open in lieu of closing until the 2013-14 ski season got underway.

In fact, Bill Tomcich, president of reservations agency Stay Aspen Snowmass, said at the time that Aspen was on pace to have a record month in terms of October hotel and lodge bookings. The record was set in 2011, a great year for fall foliage, when occupancy for the month was 32.6 percent.

Tomcich said Wednesday that the DestiMetrics report that includes final numbers for October won’t be released until next week.