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Business Monday: Free from health orders, Aspen businesses make up ground in July

Aspen’s retail economy continued to show it is on the mend, according to the city’s lastest consumption tax report. The above chart shows year-to date sales through July compared to 2020. (Graphic courtesy of city of Aspen)

Whether compared with the same month in 2019 or in 2020, July retail sales in Aspen showed a significant surge, according to the city’s consumption tax report released Friday.

Overall taxable sales of $125 million in July were up 38% over the same month in 2019 and 50.2% over the pandemic-riddled July 2020.

“We continue to see a resurgence in economic activity through the summer season,” noted city senior tax auditor Anthony Lewin in an introductory memo to last week’s report crunching July sales figures. “Most industries continue to meet or exceed ‘normal’ levels, when compared to pre-pandemic 2019 figures, coinciding with robust tourism returning to the valley during the summer months.”



The majority of the 14 taxable retail industries the city tracks posted gains in July over July 2020. The most notable improvements came the from accommodations sector, which bounced back with a 75.6% improvement over July 2020, and fashion clothing, which more than doubled last year’s showing with a 119.7% gain, according to the report.

Here’s how Aspen’s retail sectors fared in July:




— Accommodations, $34.9 million, up 75.6% over July 2020

— Restaurants/bars, $23.3 million, up 42.6%

— Sports equipment/clothing, $5 million, down 4.4%

— Fashion clothing, $18.2 million, up 119.7%

— Construction, $7.9 million, up 30%

— Food/drug, $10.9 million, up 55.2%

— Liquor, $1.7 million, up 4.4%

— Misc., $7.6 million, up 5.8%

— Jewelry/gallery, $6.6 million, up 25.7%

— Utilities, $3.3 million, up 21.5%

— Automobile, $3.3 million, up 40%

— Marijuana, $1.4 million, up 4.2%

— Bank/finance, $267,284, n/a

— Health/beauty, $764,107, n/a

The strong July helped fuel the continued recovery of Aspen’s retail economy from last year, yet Lewin noted “there are still a couple of industries that have been slower to recover — accommodations and restaurants/bars remain behind 2019 sales.”

Through this year’s first seven months, the accommodations sector is down 16% and restaurants are off 1% from the same period in 2019, “but these sectors have made up significant ground following the weak peak months of the 2020-21 ski season, when sales fell dramatically,” Lewin noted.

The legal marijuana trade, with a 7% slide, is the other sector down from 2019 year to date through July, Lewin reported.

Through July, Aspen retailers this year accounted for $548 million in taxable sales, the report said.


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