Food + Wine = $3.21 million |

Food + Wine = $3.21 million

Attendees at last month’s Food & Wine Classic apparently consumed more than just food and wine at the Grand Tasting Tent – they spent some $3.21 million on accommodations and other expenses.Based on information from 13 retail businesses, admittedly a statistically invalid sample, the Food & Wine Classic generated $3.21 million in economic activity from June 12-18, according to a report the city Finance Department issued Tuesday. Food & Wine ran June 16-18, but the week-long period takes into account the early arrival of participants, explained Paul Menter, city finance director.It is the second such analysis the department has done in an attempt to quantify the economic impact of a special event in Aspen. Winter X Games 10 in 2006 had a total impact of $3.9 million, the finance office previously reported, but the shorter Food & Wine Classic produced a greater impact on a daily basis – $458,551 per day versus $435,556 during the X Games, according to the finance office.Overall June retail sales data won’t be available until late July, but retail activity was up 1.6 percent in May, compared to the same month a year ago, according to the monthly sales report also issued Tuesday by the finance office.Retail sales for the year, through May, totaled $205.3 million – up 10.4 percent over the same five-month period in 2005.The city’s sales tax collections for the first five months of the year are up 10.4 percent, compared to 2005, and lodging tax revenues are up about 13 percent. The consumer price index, which gauges inflation, is up 4 percent, meaning tax revenues are outpacing inflation.”The Aspen economy appears to be on a very solid foundation,” Menter said in his report.If the trends continue, the city can expect a 9 percent annual increase in sales tax revenues and an 11 percent jump in lodging tax revenues by year’s end, according to the report.Through May, tourist accommodations were up 10.4 percent for the year, while restaurant/bar receipts were up about 12 percent. Together, the two categories account for roughly half of overall annual sales.Sports equipment/clothing was up 12.5 percent through May (though it took a 5 percent dip for the month), and clothing sales were up 15.5 percent.Among significant sectors of the economy, only general retail sales are lagging behind last year’s pace – down nearly 5 percent through May. The category includes building materials, hardware, appliances and the like.Aspen Times staff writer Greg Schreier contributed to this report.

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