August sales keep Aspen retailers rolling, according to city tax report

Staff report

The $115.4 million in sales generated by Aspen retailers in August signaled growth of 12.3% over the same month last year, according to the city’s latest tax report issued Tuesday.

“This statistic incorporates continued strength of the accommodations and restaurant industries as in past months, but also includes robust (though often erratic) spending in the luxury sectors of fashion clothing and jewelry/gallery,” according to Pete Strecker, the city’s finance director and author of the report. “Only a few sectors of the economy demonstrated softening, the largest of which was construction.”

He said August is “a period of time in the local economy when local businesses make that last push before the crowds begin to officially wane from the feverish pace experienced over the summer.”

Consumers did most of their business in person, but he said that behavior will change in the colder months ahead.

“This month’s economic activity reflects a ratio of 88% local brick and mortar sales vs. 12% from online/external businesses,” he wrote. “With summer coming to a close, and local shop visitation to be dialed back further next month, staff anticipates this split to sway back slightly towards an online environment for the next three reporting periods. “

Sales figures from August increased year-to-date totals to $836 million, a 28.5% bump over the first months of 2021, according to the report.

The city realized a 10% increase in sales-tax collections in August over August 2021, while year-to-date receipts are 27% ahead of last year, the report said.

“Though these figures reflect robust growth to date, economic headwinds are likely to persist and ensure this to be unsustainable,” Strecker noted. “Even though the local economy is routinely late to reflect economic pressures visible in the national economy, persistent and substantial Federal Reserve rate hikes are all but ensured to dampen international tourism and lowering even domestic travel, as the strong U.S. dollar and waning consumer sentiment weigh heavy. “

Lodging-tax collections for the city increased 16% in August over August 2021, and year-to-date collections were 67% ahead of the same period in 2021.

“August included a drop in occupancy relative to last year (down roughly 7%) but did not severely impact revenues as high average nightly rates persisted and were roughly 12% over those levied a year ago,” the report said.