August sales help with year’s totals |

August sales help with year’s totals

A modest increase in retail sales by Aspen businesses in August helped push year-to-date sales for 1999 slightly ahead of 1998, according to new report by the city of Aspen.Reported retail sales by all businesses were up 2.3 percent in August compared to the same month the prior year, according to the report by the city finance department.Sales totaled $37.31 million for the month.Restaurants and bars led the way by posting an increase of 12.3 percent to sales of 8.09 million.The report showed that the other big winners for the month were:-Tourist accommodations, up 4.1 percent to sales of $10.86 million;-clothing stores, up 5.3 percent to sales of $4.1 million;-liquor stores, up 7.7 percent to sales of nearly $573,000; and-food and drug stores, up 3.1 percent to sales of $3.88 million.Sales by sports equipment and clothing stores were up by less than 1 percent to $1.53 million.Sales by specialty retail shops, which include many of Aspen’s boutiques, were down 4.6 percent to $3.59 million. General retail stores experienced a 22.9 percent decline in sales to $1.63 million.August shoppers weren’t in the market for T-shirts, as sales in that category sagged 9 percent to about $325,000.The finance department releases figures only for general categories. The performance of an individual business within a category could have been better or worse than the average.For the year through August, combined retail sales by Aspen businesses were up 0.3 percent compared to the same point in 1998, according to the finance department’s report.While no particular sector of the economy is experiencing a booming year, those posting slight increases over 1998 are restaurants and bars, clothing stores, liquor stores, general retail stores, and food and drug stores.Sales for sports equipment and clothing stores are flat for the year. Sales by tourist accommodations, the biggest sector of the economy, are down 1.5 percent to $83.67 million.Specialty retail shops were taking a beating through August, with sales off 3.5 percent to $20.93 million. T-shirt shops were down almost 21 percent to $2.3 million.Although retail sales have finally pulled even with 1998, sales tax revenues are lagging behind the city staff’s expectations. The $4.6 million in sales taxes collected by the city is about 5 percent lower than budgeted.The revenue stream suffered from poor sales months in January, February, March and April, the city report showed.

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