Snow-driven March boosts Aspen retail sales 8.2 percent
March proved to be a merry month for Aspen retailers.
According to the city’s monthly sales tax and consumption report, local businesses garnered $67.1 million in revenue, an 8.2 percent increase of $5.1 million compared with March 2012’s $62 million.
Twelve of 13 sales categories experienced sales gains compared with the same month a year ago. The exception was construction, which saw a $207,000 decrease, or 6.4 percent, during a month in which the snowfall totals were considerably higher than last year’s March.
Accommodations, the term representing lodging sales, rose $2.7 million, or 13.4 percent, according to the city’s report. March 2012 made history as the driest March since records started to be kept at Aspen’s water plant in 1934.
Other big winners in March of this year were the categories of general retail, specialty retail and jewelry-gallery-fur, each of which posted gains of between 26 percent and 29 percent.
Restaurants and bars climbed by nearly $450,000 compared with March 2012, a modest 3.9 percent increase. Other gains included automobile sales (10 percent), sports equipment-clothing (10 percent) and retail liquor (7.6 percent).
For the first three months of this year, retail sales are 5.4 percent higher, representing a $9.9 million increase over the January-to-March period last year.
March generally is a busy month for Aspen retailers, accounting for between 11 percent and 13 percent of the entire year’s sales and sales-tax collections, the report said.
The city’s 2.1 percent sales tax generated $1.4 million, a 7.5 percent increase over March 2012’s $1.3 million. The city collects another 0.3 percent in sales taxes, but that money is earmarked for local education through a voter referendum passed in November 2012, and the monetary figures related to it aren’t included in the city’s tax and consumption report.
Tenants at the city’s oldest deed-restricted housing complex, Centennial Apartments, faced rent hikes as high as 30% in January that sent city, county, and APCHA officials into closed-door meetings with the relatively new landlord, Birge & Held.