July sales up 3.7 percent | AspenTimes.com

July sales up 3.7 percent

Janet Urquhart

Retail sales in Aspen climbed 3.7 percent in July, but tourist accommodations were flat compared to the same month last year.July’s increase comes on the heels of June sales figures that were down 1.2 percent from last year, though the loss of available rooms at the St. Regis, where one wing is being remodeled into fractional-ownership suites, helped drive June’s drop.Several large sectors of the local economy posted gains during July, but others saw losses, according to sales figures for the month, released Wednesday by the city finance office.For the first seven months of the year, retail sales are up 7.9 percent, compared to the same period in 2003.All but two sectors of the economy are ahead of last year’s pace. Tourist accommodations and restaurant/bar business are up 7.5 percent and 8.0 percent for the year, respectively. Together, the two categories make up nearly half of overall sales.While lodging business was flat in July, restaurant/bar sales were up 7.3 percent for the month, based on sales tax collections. Sports equipment/clothing sales were down 6.8 percent, but general clothing sales were up 9.7 percent. Utilities were up a whopping 39.3 percent, but food/drug sales were down 1.1 percent and liquor store sales were up just 1 percent.General retail sales, including such items as hardware and appliances, were down 1.2 percent; the specialty retail category, which includes gifts, books, antiques, luggage and the like, was down 4.7 percent.Overall sales for the month totaled $41.4 million; total sales for the first seven months of the year stood at $243.1 million.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail is janet@aspentimes.com