Sales report shows ski season ended with surge |

Sales report shows ski season ended with surge

A fantastic finish to the ski season sent retail sales surging 6.4 percent in Aspen during April, according to a report released today by the city’s finance department.

Taxable sales by businesses of all types hit $18.74 million for the month. However, the gain was due almost entirely to tourist accommodations. They were up 31 percent compared to April 2004.

Almost every other sector of the retail economy was flat or down from the month. Restaurants and bars, which often track closely to tourist accommodations’ performance, were down 15.6 percent. Sports goods were off 10.3 percent. Even liquor stores saw sales fall 3.5 percent in April.

Aspen hosted the Mountain Travel Symposium in April, which attracted about 1,000 people from resorts around the country to examine issues affecting ski areas.

April is one of Aspen’s four off-season months ” along with May, October and November ” so its performance doesn’t greatly influence the retail performance for the whole year, noted a report by city finance director Paul Menter.

Nevertheless, the month capped a strong ski season. Retail sales from January through April hit $171.19 million, an increase of 7.3 percent over the same period in 2004.

Menter’s report said the projected increase for all of 2005 over the prior year is 7.7 percent at this point. “When adjusted for inflation, however, the city’s retail economy is actually smaller today than it was in 1995,” Menter wrote.

In 1995 dollars, the taxable retail sales in 2004 were down 15 percent, his report said. Even a strong performance this year wouldn’t close that gap.

“Conclusion? The current short-term trend shows strong growth, while the longer-term trend represents a retail economy struggling to come out of a multi-year period of contraction,” Menter wrote.

So far in 2005, city coffers are faring well from various taxes. Revenues from the city’s 2.2 percent sales tax are $3.78 million, an increase of 7.3 percent over the prior year.

The 1 percent city lodging tax has collected $465,452 through April, an increase of 7.4 percent.

The real estate market has gone nuts in 2005, so the city’s real estate transfer taxes are hauling in big bucks. The real estate tax that creates revenues for affordable housing projects has collected $3.31 million through May. That is a 54 percent increase from last year.

The real estate tax for Wheeler Opera House funds has raised $1.82 million, an increase of 53 percent from the same period last year.

Scott Condon’s e-mail address is

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