Three reports released over the past week provide a better picture of the state of the economy in Aspen-Pitkin County.
The accommodation occupancy report, with data provided by resort tracking company DestiMetrics and a local summary from Kristi Kavanaugh, vice president of sales for Aspen Skiing Co., and Lise Adams, director of central reservation agency Stay Aspen Snowmass, shows December and winter – advance reservations for the season are progressing well. The information is based on data collected by DestiMetrics up to November 30, and early bookings have likely improved since then.
Either way, “December has started well,” says the local summary.
The combined occupancy rate of the Aspen-Snowmass market started the month at 54.9%, which is 19% higher than the reservation rate of 34.8% in early December 2020.
Occupancy rates for December (and the holiday season) improve historically after the middle of the month, with travelers making last-minute plans while checking weather reports for snowfall status and amount. of open land in the four ski mountains of Aspen Skiing Co.
The report and summary also take note of booking data for November, typically a light month for tourism activity. Together, Aspen-Snowmass had an occupancy rate of 29.3% last month, up 19% from 24.6% in November 2020. The occupancy rate of 29.3% is a new record. , according to the local report.
“Once again, the two stations set new occupancy records for the month,” the summary said. “The pre-Thanksgiving occupation appears to be driving these new records. that of November [combined] the occupancy rate of 29.3% is the highest ever recorded. Aspen’s new record was set at 33.8% while Snowmass’s new record is 19.7%.
Regarding advance bookings for the winter (November to April), the rate as of November 30 was 43.4% – a 96% improvement over the status of winter bookings as of December 1, 2020 – and 4% better than two years ago. .
“January and April are the only two months when the performance is worse than two years ago, the others are accelerating,” said the summary. “This is due to the international [travel] recover at a much slower pace than domestic travel, whose historic travel falls in January. There is still time to fill in any gaps in April.
Also this week, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment released county and state unemployment rates for November. At 6.1%, Pitkin County had the fourth highest unemployment rate of the state’s 64 counties. San Miguel County, where the Telluride Ski Resort is located, had the highest rate at 7.6%. Eagle County’s rate was listed as 4.5% and Garfield’s was recorded at 4.2%. These county rates were not seasonally adjusted.
At a Dec. 7 working session of the Pitkin County Council of Commissioners, officials expressed concern about the state of the local workforce, especially the perceived shortage of employees as the busy winter season approaches. While the number of available jobs seems plentiful based on print and online ads – and the local economy is generally seen as robust from a sales standpoint – many people have left the workforce. the Aspen region since the start of the pandemic in early 2020, looking for different opportunities.
Further workforce-themed meetings are expected to take place early next year. Pitkin’s 6.1% unemployment rate is up slightly from October’s 5.4% rate, but significantly lower than the double-digit spring and early summer 2020 unemployment rate.
Finally, the city of Aspen released its monthly consumption report, which represents retail sales (and other types) in October.
Taxable sales for the month, among 14 distinct categories defined by the city, totaled $ 67.3 million: 42% more than in October 2020 and 75% more than in the same month in 2019, before the pandemic.
As usual, accommodation, the city’s accommodation term, led the way, with gross sales of $ 15.6 million, a 155% increase from October’s accommodation sales. 2020. Restaurants and bars grossed $ 9.4 million, a 4% increase from the same month last year.
“What is somewhat surprising this month is the extent to which some industries exceeded pre-pandemic levels for the month,” says a memorandum from the city’s chief tax auditor, Anthony Lewin. “Accommodations, as one of the main economic drivers of the local economy, grew by more than 100% for the month and have now surpassed the 2019 overall collections after starting about 60% in the hole in due to COVID restrictions at the start of 2021. “