July sales figures show rebound | AspenTimes.com

July sales figures show rebound

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Aspen?s retail economy showed a strong rebound in the month of July, though sales for the month still lagged slightly behind those posted a year ago.

July sales were down 2.4 percent, compared to the same month in 2001, according to the latest sales tax figures released by the city finance department.

The month of June, marked by an outbreak of wildfires across the state that had tourists rethinking vacation plans, was off last year?s pace by 10.3 percent.

For the first seven months of this year, retail sales are down 5.1 percent, compared to the same period a year ago.

For the month of July alone, most sectors of the economy remained down, compared to July 2001, but fared better than they had in June.

Tourist accommodations, for example, were down 9.2 percent for the month of July, compared to 19.2 percent in June. Restaurant/bar receipts were down 4.3 percent in July, compared to 7.6 percent in June. Together, the two categories make up the single largest segment of the retail economy, accounting for close to half of all sales.

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Hotel and lodge occupancy during the month of July stood at 71 percent, according to a sampling of condo, hotel and lodge properties surveyed monthly by the Aspen Chamber Resort Association. In July 2001, occupancy hovered at 78 percent for the month.

?Our July was on track with last year. I think that?s good for us,? reported Warren Klug, general manager of the Aspen Square Hotel.

The condominium hotel hasn?t set any records this summer, but with bookings that rival last year?s, Klug is pleased. ?I consider that a great victory. I feel pretty good about the whole summer,? he said.

Although Aspen?s business climate has been the focus of headlines and hand wringing for much of the summer, some individual businesses are doing extremely well. Count clothing retailer Heidi Semrau?s Distractions among them.

?There are some businesses that are having great summers, that are doing well,? she said. ?I wouldn?t say that Aspen retail is dead and dying.?

Sales at Distractions are double last summer?s tally, Semrau reported.

Clothing store sales overall, however, were down 15.6 percent for the month of July, compared to July 2001. They are down nearly 12 percent for the year, based on sales tax receipts.

Sports equipment/clothing sales were down 1.9 percent in July, compared to the same month last year, and are down about 5 percent for the year.

Specialty retail sales, including gifts, books, antiques, luggage and the like, were up 16.2 percent in July and are up 3.3 percent for the year.

Food and drug sales were up 15.5 percent in July, compared to July 2001, but are down 3.1 percent for the year.

General retail, which includes such items as hardware and appliances, was down .4 percent for July and 3.3 percent for the year.

Utilities were off pace in July by 1.5 percent and are down 7.5 percent for the year so far.

For the first seven months of the year, overall retail sales totaled $226.5 million, according to the report. July sales totaled $38.3 million.

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