September sales drop 4.8 percent |

September sales drop 4.8 percent

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Retail sales took almost a 5 percent dive in September after three straight months of gains, according to sales tax data released Wednesday by the city finance office.

Sales during the month of September were down 4.8 percent, compared to the same month a year ago. A big drop in the hotel/lodging business was apparently to blame. The tourist accommodations sector was down 25 percent for the month, compared to September 2002.

For the first three quarters of the year, sales activity in Aspen was down 0.2 percent, based on sales tax collections, compared to the first nine months of 2002. At the close of August, overall sales were up 0.2 percent for the year.

In September, restaurant/bar sales were down slightly ” 0.2 percent. Together, tourist accommodations and restaurant/bar business accounts for close to half of all retail sales.

Sports equipment/clothing sales were up 6.4 percent for the month; general clothing sales were up 0.4 percent. Utilities were down nearly 12 percent, but liquor store sales were up almost 20 percent. Food and drug sales were up 3.6 percent.

General retail sales, including such items as hardware, paint and appliances, were up 2.3 percent for the month, while speciality retail sales ” gifts, books, antiques, luggage and the like ” were up 1.1 percent.

For the first nine months of the year, tourist accommodations were off last year’s pace by 3.7 percent. Restaurant/bar business was up 3.2 percent.

General and specialty retail, two other large segments of the economy, were down 8.8 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively.

For the year, sports equipment/clothing sales were down 0.4 percent through September, while clothing sales in general were up 2 percent.

Food and drug sales were up 5.5 percent for the year, but utilities were down almost 1 percent.

Collections from the city’s 1 percent lodging tax, which funds marketing efforts and in-town transit, were down 2.4 percent for the first nine months.

The real estate transfer tax dedicated to affordable housing was running 3 percent behind 2002 collections at the end of September, while revenues from the real estate transfer tax dedicated to the Wheeler Opera House were down 4 percent, compared to the first three quarters of 2002.

Overall retail sales through September totaled $287.5 million, according to the report. Sales during the month of September alone totaled $23.8 million.

[Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is]

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