If it seemed like Aspen had the busiest July ever, that’s because taken on the whole, it did.
Retail sales for July totaled $60.1 million, according to the city’s monthly consumption tax report released Wednesday. The figure is 5.5 percent higher than the $57 million mark posted by the city in the same month in 2012.
In other words, 2012 had a record-setting July in terms of Aspen’s retail sales, and the most recent July topped even that. A look back at the city’s reports over the past 10 years does not show Aspen retailers ever having topped the $60 million mark in July until this year.
Accommodations in Aspen enjoyed a $1 million increase in revenue, from $15.3 million to $16.3 million, or 6.5 percent. The boost in hotel and lodge revenue came amid a slight drop in actual hotel bookings in Aspen, according to figures from Denver-based DestiMetrics LLC, a company that tracks lodging performance (formerly known as the Mountain Travel Research Program).
DestiMetrics reported a 77.4 percent occupancy rate in Aspen for July, down from 79.6 percent in the same month last year. Bill Tomcich, president of reservations firm Stay Aspen Snowmass, said overall revenue may be higher for the hotel-lodge industry because rates are slightly higher.
The DestiMetrics report issued in early August shows that the average daily rate for Aspen hotel properties in July rose from $326 last year to $353 this year, an increase of 8.2 percent. Accordingly, the revenue-per-room figure for July was up, as well, from $259 last year to $273 this year, DestiMetrics said. Those statistics reflect a sampling of local hotel properties and do not include every lodging operation or room.
Tomcich believes another reason that Aspen seemed busier in July was the fact that two hotels in Snowmass Village, the Westin and the Wildwood, were open after being closed last year for extensive renovations. Many of the July guests at those properties — which combine for slightly more than 400 rooms — spent time at Aspen retail establishments during their days and evenings, he said.
In fact, Snowmass Village enjoyed a July occupancy rate of 49.2 percent, well above July 2012’s 40.4 percent.
“Aspen occupancy in July was shy of last year by just a couple of points, but Snowmass was way ahead, and that’s because of all the rooms that opened at the Westin and the Wildwood,” Tomcich said.
“I think the (Snowmass visitors) are one reason Aspen seemed so much busier this July than last July, when in fact the hotel-occupancy (figures) reflected that Aspen was slightly down,” he added.
Construction activity was a shot in the arm in July, with the city’s report reflecting a $500,000 increase, or 21.5 percent, from $2.4 million last year to $2.9 million this year. Restaurants and bars registered a slight uptick, from $12.7 million to $12.9 million.
The general and specialty retail categories were 3.5 and 11.2 percent higher, respectively. Jewelry-gallery-fur sales saw a big increase, from $1.3 million in July 2012 to $1.8 million during the most recent July.
At $5.6 million during both Julys, food and drug sales were flat. Liquor sales were 11.1 percent lower, falling by a little more than $100,000. But automobile sales jumped by about $450,000, and sales in the “miscellaneous” category grew by nearly $400,000.
July typically accounts for about 10 percent of the year’s retail sales and city sales tax collections, according to the city of Aspen Finance Department. It usually is the fifth-busiest month of the year for retail sales, falling behind the winter-tourism months of December, January, February and March.
The report also records the city’s July collection of its 2.1 percent sales tax at $1.26 million, a 5.9 percent increase over July 2012’s $1.19 million.