Aspen Daily News Staff Report
Taxable retail sales in the city of Aspen were up 6.3 percent for the month of July. With the high-season month accounting for roughly 10.4 percent of the year’s total economic activity in the books, 2019 is pacing 6.4 percent ahead of 2018 in terms of year-to-date taxable retail sales, according to the latest city of Aspen consumption tax report.
The town’s largest economic sector of accommodations, which through July are responsible for 31 percent of all the dollars spent in Aspen in 2019, saw sales increase 6.9 percent for July compared to the same month last year. Notably, Aspen occupancy reported by Stay Aspen Snowmass and Destimetrics was flat for the month, yet the average room rate was up 7 percent to $512, which would account for the higher taxable sales figure. For the year, accommodations are up 7.9 percent.
The next largest sector of restaurants and bars, which represents 17.6 percent of the town’s economy so far this year, was up 4.2 percent for the month. Restaurants and bars are up 5.6 percent for the year.
The largest month-over-month gain of any sector was in luxury goods, which were up 43 percent. That category is relatively small, accounting for 4.3 percent of the overall economy, and as such, one big sale can skew the numbers. That is what happened in July, according to city of Aspen tax auditor, Anthony Lewin.
“There was a very large art sale from a gallery … [that] inflated our number,” Lewin said, adding that he could not disclose any more information. “One store having a good month can do it.”
July 2018 saw retail sales increase 9 percent from July 2017.
Retail sales in June were down 0.5 percent in Aspen.
July’s lodging tax collections were up 2 percent from the same period last year. On a year-to-date basis, the lodging tax is up 6.4 percent.
Housing and Wheeler real estate transfer tax collections for August — which are reported a month ahead of sales tax figures — were up 5.4 percent and 6.2 percent respectively. On a year-to-date basis through August, collections are down 6.6 percent and 5.7 percent, respectively.