Sales frenzy starts 2006 |

Sales frenzy starts 2006

Janet Urquhart

Aspen’s retail sales soared 13.6 percent in January, eclipsing last year’s record.Total sales for the first month of the year totaled $53.2 million, compared with $46.8 million for the same month a year ago, according to a report the city finance office released Tuesday. Last year’s January sales were a record for the month, eclipsing the record set in 2004.Virtually all segments of the economy posted double-digit gains in January 2006, driven in part by Winter X Games 10 at Buttermilk. The city finance office recently estimated the games generated an extra $3.37 million in spending during the last nine days of January.This year’s Wintersköl celebration, Jan. 12-15, boosted sales by more than $1 million during its four-day span, and sales during Gay Ski Week, Jan. 16-22, increased by $1.6 million, based on comparisons with last year’s taxable sales.For the month, only the general retail category was down by any significant margin – 17.4 percent – a decline that apparently reflects significant construction activity in January 2005, according to Paul Menter, city finance director. The general retail category encompasses such purchases as building materials and appliances.The other large segments of the economy all posted gains – tourist accommodations, up 11 percent; restaurants/bars, 10.8 percent; clothing stores, 33.2 percent; utilities, 25.7 percent; sports equipment/clothing, 17.8 percent; specialty retail, 13.9 percent; and food/drug sales, 9 percent.Among the small categories (each made up less than 1.5 percent of overall sales in January), liquor store sales were up 13.7 percent, jewelry receipts were up 0.7 percent, gallery sales were up 138 percent, T-shirt store sales were down 1 percent; and fur sales were up 118.9 percent.Aspen closed 2005 with annual retail sales that were up 10.5 percent from 2004.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is

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