November sales up 18 percent |

November sales up 18 percent

Janet Urquhart

November is one of the slowest months of the year for Aspen’s retail economy, but sales were up 18 percent for the month nonetheless, according to figures released today by the city finance office.

World Cup racing, absent in 2003, returned to Aspen for Thanksgiving weekend 2004, helping boost sales activity. The final two weekends of the Aspen Junior Hockey Fall Face-Off also took place in November, filling some lodges and restaurants with an off-season shot in the arm.

The resort saw a whopping 66.5 percent increase in the lodge/hotel business alone during November, compared to the same month in 2003. To put that increase in perspective, however, November activity only boosted year-to-date sales by a half a percent.

Aspen closed October with sales running 7.5 percent ahead of the first 10 months of 2003. At the close of November, sales in 2004 were outpacing the prior year by 8 percent.

Still, all sectors of the economy posted gains in November except sports equipment/clothing sales, which were down 4.4 percent. Restaurant/bar business was up 21.3 percent and clothing sales were up 29 percent, compared to November 2003.

Among other large categories, general retail sales ” including such items as paint, hardware and appliances ” were up 30.7 percent.

Taxable sales in November totaled $17.7 million, boosting total sales for the first 11 months of 2004 to $345.4 million.

Through November, tourist accommodations were up 8.9 percent and restaurant/bar business was up 8.6 percent. Together, the two categories make up close to half of overall sales in a typical year.

December’s sales figures, reflecting the impact of the holiday season, won’t be available until early February, due to the lag time in sales tax reporting.

Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is

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