Retail activity climbs with fall |

Retail activity climbs with fall

September retail sales shot up 15.2 percent, compared with the same month a year ago, according to figures the city Finance Department released Thursday.Aspen has been on a hot streak of retail activity since June, posting healthy monthly increases throughout the summer. For the first three quarters of the year, sales are up 10.4 percent compared with the same period in 2004.The tourist accommodations sector was up 26.3 percent in September and is up 14 percent this year. Gains in the category are significant, since tourist accommodations are the single largest sector of the resort’s retail economy, typically accounting for 30 percent of Aspen’s overall, taxable retail sales.The restaurant/bar business, however, continued to post only a modest gain from 2004. The category, which typically represents about 20 percent of overall annual sales, was up 10 percent in September but is up 2.2 percent for the year.Clothing store receipts, accounting for 9.4 percent of overall sales through the first nine months of the year, were up 10 percent in September. Clothing sales were up 15.3 percent through the third quarter.Food and drug sales were up 8.3 percent for the month and about 5 percent for the year. The category represented 9.6 percent of overall sales through September.Among other categories, sports equipment and clothing sales were up 2.2 percent in September; utilities were up 20.9 percent; general retail was up 18.4 percent; specialty retail was up 25.6 percent; liquor store sales were up 15.7 percent; jewelry sales were down 32 percent; gallery sales were up 18.4 percent; T-shirt sales were down 4.6 percent; and fur sales were down 14.4 percent.September’s retail sales totaled $32.9 million. Sales through the first nine months of the year totaled $341.8 million.The city’s sales tax collections are up nearly 11 percent, compared with the first three-quarters of 2004, while lodging tax collections are up 11.7 percent. Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is

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