Report: Aspen retail sales sets record, eclipses $1 billion mark in ’21 |

Report: Aspen retail sales sets record, eclipses $1 billion mark in ’21

Staff report
People walk through the Cooper Ave. pedestrian mall on Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2021, in downtown Aspen.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

Taxable sales in Aspen’s retail arena topped $1 billion for all of 2021, making it the first time the 10-figure mark has been cracked in a single calendar year.

Total sales rang up last year finished at $1,020,753,218, according to the city’s monthly sales tax consumption report issued Tuesday. The 2021 figures coasted past performances from previous years. That included 2020, which recorded $766,222,659 in taxable retail sales in Aspen, while 2019, a pre-pandemic year, amounted to $819,757,641 in total sales.

“This final month (December) rounds out aggregate collections for the year, and results in 2021 consumers outspending past cohorts by more than 33% and 24% in 2020 and 2019, respectively,” noted Pete Strecker, city finance director, in the report.

It also topped more recent years such as 2018 ($759,597,078 ), 2017 ($730,414,351), 2016 ($713,876,169) and 2015 ($666,049,387), according to previously released city sales tax records.

December closed out the year strong as it usually does, with retailers chalking up $147,705,780 in overall sales, beating the same month in 2020 by 56% and 2019 by 22%, the report said.

Of the 14 retail sectors that pay Aspen sales taxes, just the marijuana trade experienced sales declines in 2021 compared to 2020 and 2019.

This pie chart shows the percentage that each of Aspen’s retail sectors contributed to overall sales in 2021.

“While aggregate figures are robust, there continues to be a few industries (marijuana and automobiles) that experience uphill challenges, either around reduced customer base or in supply chain limitations,” noted Strecker. “However, despite this monthly suppression, all industries aside from marijuana, experienced positive growth and by a substantial margin. While this is indeed positive, the demand for service has also begun to elevate the challenges local businesses are experiencing around a reduced labor market that is being experienced nationally.”

Aspen retailers entered 2021 under pandemic-influenced public health orders, including a county mandate that took effect in mid-January banning indoor dining. Lodging also was restricted to a single household per unit. In early February 2021, the COVID-19 incidence rate returned to levels low enough for county health authorities to lift those restrictions.

Yet with 2021 now in the books, figures show both restaurants and lodges bounced back in earnest.

Here’s a breakdown of 2021 performances by each industry:

— Accommodations, $256,865,311 in sales, 45.1% ahead of 2020 and 8.4% above 2019

— Restaurants/bars, $154,955,362, up 26.1% over 2020 and 11.5% over 2019

— Sports equipment/clothing, $65,735,189, 22.7% ahead of 2020 and 24% ahead of 2019

— Fashion clothing, $121,272,550, 93% better than 2020 and 89.6% over 2019

— Construction, $94,834,967, 32.2% ahead of 2020 and 35.1% ahead of 2019

— Food/drug, $68,967,198, 19.4% over 2020 and 15.8% over 2019

— Liquor, $13,759,851, 3.6% over 2020 and 25.8% over 2019

— Miscellaneous, $94,221,354, 10.1% better than 2020 and 28.8% ahead of 2019

— Jewelry/gallery, $46,883,805, 21.4% over 2020 and 21.3% above 2019

— Utilities, $49,592,868, 10.4% ahead of 2020 and 8.7% over 2019

— Automobile, $31,400,315, 30.1% ahead of 2020 and 61.6% over 2019

— Marijuana, $11,207,258, down 1% from 2020 and 6.2% lower than 2019

— Bank/finance, $4,463,553, n/a

— Health/beauty, $6,593,635, n/a

The city also enjoyed $24,509,175 in sales tax revenue collections in 2021, which was 44.3% ahead of budget projections and 33.5% higher than the city’s haul of $18,358,622 in 2020.

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