Year starts with a bang |

Year starts with a bang

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Happy New Year!

Aspen set a January record with $45.3 million in retail sales during the first month of the new year, according to figures released Tuesday by the city finance office.

Fueled by cold weather and the Winter X Games, sales were up 17 percent from January 2003. In fact, retail activity eclipsed the previous record for the month, set in 1998, by 5 percent.

Tourist accommodations were up 19.7 percent for the month, compared to the same month a year ago, logging $15 million worth of business. Restaurant/bar business was up 11 percent. Anyone who shivered in the stands at Buttermilk to take in the nighttime events at this year’s X Games knows why utilities were up a whopping 41 percent. Oh, baby, it was cold out there.

“I think the thank you note to David Perry needs to be in the mail as soon as possible,” said Paul Menter, the city’s finance director, in reference to the Aspen Skiing Co. executive and the Skico’s role in bringing ESPN’s Winter X Games to Aspen.

The month began with a huge snowstorm that stranded holiday travelers and no doubt prolonged some visitors’ stays and ended with Gay Ski Week. Virtually every segment of the local economy posted gains ” in some cases, huge gains ” over January 2003 tallies.

Liquor store sales were the exception; they were off last year’s pace by 15.7 percent. Booze accounted for $612,159 in sales; jewelry sales, in comparison, totaled $722,107 ” up 149 percent for the month. Both categories made up less than 2 percent of overall sales in January.

Among the larger categories, food and drug sales were up 13.3 percent.

Sports equipment/clothing sales were up nearly 29 percent, while clothing store sales were up 4.2 percent, compared to January 2003.

General retail sales, including such items as hardware and appliances, were up 23.5 percent; specialty retail ” gifts, books, antiques, luggage and the like ” were up 2 percent.

“One good month doesn’t a trend make,” cautioned Menter. “There’s no reason to pop the champagne corks yet. If we get through the first quarter and trend like this, that’s reason to celebrate.

[Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is]


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