Retail sales hot in July | AspenTimes.com

Retail sales hot in July

Janet Urquhart

Retail sales in Aspen continued their torrid pace for a second straight month in July, climbing 13.5 percent over the same month a year ago.The gain comes on the heels of June numbers that were up 13.7 percent, compared to June 2004. For the first seven months of the year, sales are up 9.2 percent over last year, according to figures released Friday by the city Finance Department.”Overall, July appears to have been very good for retail sales in Aspen,” wrote Paul Menter, city finance director, in his report.Tourist accommodations, the single largest sector of the resort’s retail economy, were up 18.4 percent for the month and are tracking 13 percent ahead of last year’s totals. For the first seven months of the year, lodging receipts made up about 30 percent of overall sales.In July alone, tourist accommodations accounted for $12.5 million in sales, compared to $10.5 million in July 2004.Restaurant/bar receipts in July were up 7.1 percent over the same month last year, but are up just 1 percent for the year. Sports equipment/clothing sales were up 14.7 percent in July but are down 1 percent for the year. Clothing store sales were up 12.3 percent in July and are tracking 14.6 percent ahead of last year.General retail, including such items as hardware and appliances, was up a whopping 35.6 percent in July, while specialty retail, including gifts, books, antiques, was up nearly 13 percent for the month. The two sectors are up 13.6 percent and 3.4 percent for the year, respectively.Food and drug sales were up 11.6 percent in July, but liquor store sales dropped 8.4 percent, compared to July 2004. Utilities were down 7.4 percent.Gallery business was up 118.8 percent, but gallery sales accounted for less than 2 percent of overall sales in July, as did jewelry sales, which posted a 22 percent gain.Fur sales were down 33 percent, while T-shirt sales were up about 3 percent. Both categories accounted for less than 1 percent of overall sales.July sales totaled $47 million and sales for the first seven months of the year topped $265.6 million.Sales tax collections in the city are exceeding projections, as are real estate transfer tax revenues, according to Menter.”Real estate transfer taxes continue to soar to record high levels, which appear to be indicative of a booming market in local real estate sales as well as in time-interval sales at the various hotels,” he wrote.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com