Retail sales continue hot streak |

Retail sales continue hot streak

Aspen retail sales in August capped a blistering summer of economic activity, up 14.4 percent over the same month a year ago.Sales through the first eight months of the year were tracking nearly 10 percent above the same period in 2004, according to the city Finance Department’s latest report.The strong August follows on the heels of a July that was up 13.5 percent over 2004 and June numbers that were up 13.7 percent.Tourist accommodations were up 13 percent in August, while restaurant and bar receipts were up 3.8 percent for the month. The two categories typically account for close to half of overall annual sales.Clothing sales, up 22.4 percent in August, accounted for the third largest sector of the retail economy for the month. Food and drug sales followed, up 6.8 percent.Specialty retail, including gifts, books and antiques, was up 27 percent and general retail – including such items as hardware and appliances – was up 14 percent.Utilities were down nearly 30 percent. Liquor store sales were up 2.7 percent.Gallery sales were up 884 percent, but the category accounted for just 1.4 percent of overall sales for the first eight months of the year.Among other small categories, T-shirt sales were up 8.6 percent; jewelry sales were up 48 percent; and fur sales were up 4.9 percent in August.”We are in a period of real growth, which we haven’t seen consistently since the mid-’90s,” City Finance Director Paul Menter told the City Council during a 2006 budget overview Monday.Menter is forecasting sales tax revenue that is up 10 percent when 2005 comes to a close. That means $447 million in total sales. Adjusted for inflation, however, the buying power of those dollars is down 5.5 percent from 1995, he said.”The good news is, two years ago, we were trailing by 9.5 percent,” he said.Sales during August totaled $43.2 million; sales for the year so far total $308.9 million.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is

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