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Aspen’s Economy Back In The Fast Lane: Reports

People walk through the vendors in downtown Aspen during the summer’s first Aspen Saturday Market on Saturday, June 12, 2021. Animals weren’t part of the attraction last summer amid the pandemic, but with the easing of restrictions, this year’s market appears to be back to normal. (Austin Colbert / The Aspen Times)

Two reports released since Friday show what has become pretty obvious: Not only is Aspen’s economy booming, it’s booming too.

As of June 30, July lodge bookings in Aspen were 83.1% of paid occupancy, according to a reservation update published Monday by central reservation company Stay Aspen Snowmass. That is a record pace, the report says, while Snowmass Village has a 67.1% paid occupancy rate in July. Together, the two holiday resorts have an occupancy rate of 77.1% this month.

“July continues to be our busiest summer month,” the report said.

The Aspen City Treasury reported Friday that retailers had total sales of $ 40.4 million in May, up 81.9% from May 2020 and 46% ahead of pandemic-free May 2019.

“Overall economic activity has returned to or outperformed ‘normal’ levels in most industries as we continue into and through the summer season,” noted the city’s chief auditor, Anthony Lewin, in the report.

Aspen’s retail economy produced 16.2% more sales through May than in the first five months of 2020, and fell 2% behind the same period in 2019, according to the report.

As of May, Aspen retailers had sales of $ 327.8 million, of which $ 72.4 million, or 22.1 percent, was related to accommodations. At $ 43.7 million over the same period, restaurant and bar sales accounted for 13.1% of the city’s total retail activity.

Even so, from January to May, the accommodation industry declined 12.6% compared to the first five months of 2020, and restaurants and bars declined 4%. Public health restrictions also closed indoor dining in January and restricted shops in February.

“Despite the strong return in visitor numbers from March to May, occupancy was almost halved in the first two months of the year, resulting in a significant drop in tax transfers for the year that is slowly being resolved over time,” the report said .

There was no Food & Wine Classic in June (it will take place in September), however, according to the SAS report, the Aspen Lodges had an occupancy rate of 64.8%, which was 3.8% before June 2019. The report didn’t mention June 2020 because of the pandemic. Snowmass had an occupancy rate of 47.9% in May, which was 1.9% below May 2019.

The report forecast for this summer will be as busy as ever.

“You don’t need this report to tell you that we are seeing an increase in summer business. The summer occupancy is currently 47.6% compared to only 15.1% at the same time last year. Compared to June 30, 2019, the summer occupancy rate in the books was 39.4%, which is 20% higher than in 2019. As forecast, we are well on the way to breaking records this summer. “

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