Sales in September sizzle |

Sales in September sizzle

Janet Urquhart

Temperatures fell, and so did the leaves, but Aspen’s retail sales jumped dramatically in September. They were up 20 percent compared to the same month a year ago.For the first three quarters of the year, sales are up 7.7 percent, compared to sales activity for the first nine months of 2003, according to the latest figures from the city’s finance office.After a lackluster summer, September sizzled. Tourist accommodations were up 40.5 percent and restaurant business was up 21 percent for the month. Together, the two categories made up nearly 41 percent of overall sales for the first three quarters of the year.Sports equipment/clothing sales were up 24.5 percent for the month and clothing sales posted a 22.5 percent gain, compared to September 2003.Liquor store sales were up 14.8 percent; utilities were up 16.6 percent; general retail was up about 18 percent; and food and drug sales jumped by 6.4 percent.Specialty retail, a category that includes gifts, books, antiques, luggage and the like, was down 4.8 percent.Among the smallest segments of the overall retail economy, gallery sales posted a 209 percent gain in September, but that category accounted for just 1.8 percent of overall sales for the first three quarters of the year.Fur store sales were down 11.7 percent, jewelry sales were down 12.7 percent and T-shirt sales were up 0.3 percent.September’s gains came on the heels of August numbers that were down 1.4 percent. Retail sales posted a 3.7 percent increase in July, compared to the same month last year, but were down 1.2 percent in June.The autumn month proved a busy one with the usual special events – the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Festival, Ruggerfest, the MotherLode Volleyball Classic and Aspen Filmfest. In addition, actor Kevin Costner’s September wedding to Christine Baumgartner brought some 300 guests to his ranch just east of town, according to sales totaled $28.6 million, based on sales-tax collections. Sales for the first nine months of the year totaled $309.6 million, according to the city’s report.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is

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