Sales strong in September
Aspen’s retail sales jumped 1.5 percent in September, fueled in part by strong sales at local clothing retailers in a month that traditionally brings markdowns on summer apparel and an Aspen Goes Bazaar shopping weekend.September numbers also reflect several significant special events – the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Festival, Ruggerfest and the MotherLode Volleyball Tournament, all of which draw out-of-town visitors. However, the increase in sales, compared to September 2005, came despite a drop in attendance at the jazz festival and a snowstorm on what would normally be a peak weekend for viewing the autumn colors.For the first three quarters of the year, retail sales are up 7 percent, compared to the same period last year, according to the latest figures from the city finance office.Tourist accommodations, the single largest sector of the retail economy, was up almost 4 percent in September, compared to the same month in 2005. Restaurant/bar receipts – the second-largest segment – were essentially flat.But plenty of shops apparently posted strong sales for the month. Sports equipment/clothing was up 15.7 percent, general clothing sales were up 13.5 percent, and T-shirt sales jumped 22.5 percent. Fur store receipts were up 147.2 percent in September, though they accounted for just .3 percent of overall sales.Food and drug sales were up 5.7 percent, while liquor store sales were up 4.4 percent. Utilities and specialty retail sales both logged declines, as did gallery and jewelry sales.For the year so far, most retail categories are showing gains. Tourist accommodations is up 7.7 percent, while restaurant/bar business is up 8 percent. Together, the two categories make up close to half of overall sales for the year.September sales totaled $33.4 million, while receipts for the first nine months of the year total $365.9 million.Based on sales through the first three quarters of the year, it appears the city of Aspen will end the year with about 6 percent growth in sales tax revenues, and a 9 percent gain in lodging tax revenues, according to Paul Menter, city finance director.”Compared to the [Consumer Price Index] increase of 2.1 percent, the Aspen economy appears to be on a very solid foundation,” he said in his report.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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