Holiday sales not so cheery for Basalt |

Holiday sales not so cheery for Basalt

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

BASALT – Basalt sales tax revenues fell in December for the third straight year, demonstrating the midvalley’s slow recovery from the recession.

Sales tax revenues were down 4.3 percent in December 2010 from the prior year, according to a recent report by the town of Basalt finance department. Tax revenues were also down 21 percent from December 2007, before the recession took root. The town collects a 3 percent sales tax.

On a brighter note, sales by retail food stores – a major part of Basalt’s economy – finally ended their December swoon. The category includes City Market and Clark’s Market. Sales were up 1.2 percent in December after a long decline. The modest increase could reflect more shoppers, shoppers spending more or increasing food prices.

Despite the modest increase, retail food sales were still down by 7.5 percent from December 2007.

Other major portions of Basalt’s economy took an unexpected tumble in December, the town report showed. Restaurants with bars were down significantly, as were sales by stores in the general retail category. The category is a good indication of how Basalt’s mom-and-pop stores are faring. The finance department’s report showed:

• Restaurants with bars saw sales sag 35.6 percent in December 2010 from December 2009. Sales tax revenues from restaurants with bars fell from $20,108 in December 2009 to $14,825 last December. In addition, sales were down by nearly half of what they were in December 2007, when people were living it up more.

• Sales by general retail stores were down 30.7 percent in December compared to the prior year. The sales tax revenues were $49,052 in December 2010 compared to $64,091 the prior year.

• Sporting retail stores increased their sales by 9.2 percent last December. Sales tax revenues increased from $13,750 in December 2009 to $15,138 last December. Sporting retail sales were about on par with December 2007.

• Retail stores managed to serve a 2.4 percent gain in sales in December 2010.

• Businesses that sell building materials took another hit in December. Sales were down 13.6 percent for the month compared to the prior year. Sales by such businesses were down 53 percent from December 2007.