February sales up 4.2 percent | AspenTimes.com

February sales up 4.2 percent

Retail sales in Aspen were up 4.2 percent in February, following the gains of a record January, according to retail sales data released today by the city finance office.

February sales totaled $46.6 million and sales for the first two months of the year are tracking ahead of 2004 by 3.7 percent. The first day of February coincided with the final day of this year’s Winter X Games at Buttermilk.

City sales tax collections through February are 5.2 percent ahead of what was budgeted and real estate transfer tax collections through March, fueled by a booming real estate market, are more than 40 percent ahead of last year’s pace.

In February, tourist accommodations were up 7.3 percent over the same month in 2004, while restaurant/bar business was up 2.6 percent. Together, the two categories made up 53 percent of overall sales in the first two months of the year.

Lodging sales, the largest single category, has recorded $32.6 million in sales so far this year. Overall sales for the first two months of the year total $93.5 million.

Among other large categories, sports/equipment clothing sales were down nearly 29 percent in February and about 11 percent for the year so far, but apparently some dilinquent sales tax reporting is to blame for the downturn.

Once the missing data has been included in the numbers, city Finance Director Paul Menter expects February sales in the category to at least equal last year’s activity. Sports equipment/clothing sales for the year should be up about 3.2 percent, he noted in his report.

Among other retail sectors, clothing sales were up 21 percent in February, compared to the same month a year ago; utilities were up 33.7 percent; food and drug sales were up .8 percent; general retail, including such items as hardware and appliances, was up 1.6 percent; liquor store sales were up 13.4 percent; and jewelry sales were up 46.6 percent.

Specialty retail, including gifts, books, antiques, luggage and the like, was down 9.8 percent for the month.

Among categories that made up less than 1 percent of overall sales for the month, T-shirt store sales were down 7.8 percent; fur sales were down 26 percent; and gallery sales were up 5.3 percent.

Due to the lag time in sales tax reporting, March numbers won’t be available until sometime in late April or early May.

Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com

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