May retail sales up 9 percent |

May retail sales up 9 percent

Janet Urquhart

May is typically the slowest month of the year for Aspen retail sales, but the month nonetheless produced a 9 percent gain over May 2004, according to figures released Tuesday by the city finance office.Sales through the first five months of the year are tracking 7.5 percent ahead of last year’s pace for the same period.Less than 4 percent of the resort’s annual sales activity has historically occurred in May, according to Paul Menter, city finance director. The month produced $22.9 million in total sales, led by a healthy gain – 27.7 percent – in tourist accommodations, compared with the same month a year ago.Restaurant/bar business was down about 67 percent; however, a number of establishments simply close for the off-season month.Together, the two categories account for roughly half of annual overall sales. Tourist accommodations are up 9.8 percent through May, while restaurant/bar business has dipped 1.5 percent for the first five months of the year, given the drop-off in business during the month of May.As May is a slow month and prone to erratic trends, year-to-date sales figures are a better indicator of how the resort economy is faring through the first five months of the year, Menter said. Both sales tax and lodging tax collections are reflecting year-to-date increases of between 7 and 8 percent, and are on track to reach new highs, unadjusted for the impacts of inflation, Menter noted in his report.The city’s collection of real estate transfer taxes is also booming, given the hot real estate market.Retail sales through May total $185.7 million. A breakdown of year-to-date sales looks like this: Tourist accommodations, up 9.8 percent. Restaurants/bars, down 1.5 percent. Sports equipment/clothing, down 3.4 percent. Clothing stores, up 18.9 percent. T-shirt stores, down 6.9 percent. Fur stores, down 1.2 percent. Liquor stores, up 7.1 percent. Utilities, up 13.9 percent. General retail, up 7.7 percent. Specialty retail, down 0.9 percent. Jewelry, up 9.9 percent. Galleries, up 70.4 percent. Food and drug stores, up 3.2 percent. Miscellaneous, down 9.3 percent.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is

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