If pasta jambalaya, peppercorn filet or lobster pot pie sound good to you, you're not alone.
More consumers are snapping up the gourmet dishes at Marché Bacchus, a French bistro and wine shop in Desert Shores. Sales at Marché Bacchus have improved 10 percent over last year's sales, said Jeffrey Wyatt, the restaurant's proprietor.
"I think people are actually starting to feel like they've got to have some fun -- maybe buy a new car, have a meal or get a drink at a restaurant," Wyatt said. "We're also seeing improvements in the stock market from last year. People are feeling better about the future, and they're more willing to spend some money."
Improving sales at businesses such as Marché Bacchus helped drive up taxable sales across Nevada in January.
The state Department of Taxation reported Tuesday that sales of tangible goods jumped 6.6 percent year over year in January, to $3 billion. Sales in Clark County rose 6 percent, to $2.3 billion.
It was the seventh straight month of sales gains for the state, and the fourth consecutive month of improvements in Clark County, after a year's worth of double-digit percentage declines.
Brian Gordon, a principal in local research and consulting firm Applied Analysis, noted that January was also the first time since the recession's 2007 start that taxable sales in the prior 12 months bested totals from the 12 months before that.
"It's a sign that the worst is behind us, and consumers are starting to spend more," Gordon said.
They're spending more in several key consumer areas.
Restaurants and bars make up the largest spending category in Clark County, consuming 22 percent of the taxable-sales total, and their dollar volume jumped 7.2 percent year over year in January. Clothing and clothing accessories, the second-largest spending category at 9 percent, saw local sales rise 13 percent in the same period. Other improving sectors include retail sales inside hotel-casinos, up 21.2 percent, and sales among dealers of cars and car parts, at 8.4 percent.
Higher sales aren't driven by locals alone -- they also reflect improvements in visitor spending, Gordon said.
Visitor volume is up -- the number of tourists here increased 8.6 percent year over year in January, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority -- and visitors are spending more. The authority's latest visitor profile shows the market's average food and drink expenditure per traveler was $256.82 in 2010, up from $250.32 in 2009. Spending on shopping, shows and sightseeing jumped to $122.80, up from $101.97.
Nevada's sales gains weren't confined to Clark County.
Fourteen of Nevada's 17 counties showed sales growth in January. Rural counties fared far better than their urban counterparts: Sales jumped 43 percent in Humboldt County, 32 percent in Pershing County and 29.6 percent in Esmeralda County.
At least some of the rural counties' brisker growth came from activities related to mining and other industrial sectors.
In White Pine County, where overall sales surged 82 percent year over year, sales of support activities related to mining skyrocketed 2,289 percent. Machinery manufacturing spiked 3,343 percent, while heavy and civil engineering construction rose 2,198 percent.
Statewide, construction sales continued to slide, though at a smaller rate than in years past. The sector's 14.7 percent decline was well below the 50 percent year-over-year drops at the recession's height.
Revenue from taxable sales helps fund prisons and schools. Gross collections totaled $234.4 million in January, a 6.5 percent increase year over year. For the first seven months of fiscal 2011, which began July 1, collections rose 5 percent.
Through January, the general fund share of sales and use taxes ran 2.8 percent above expectations of the Economic Forum, a nonpartisan group that forecasts state income for budgeting purposes.
Liquor taxes came in higher than expected in January, while taxes on cigarettes, live entertainment and lodging fell below forecasts.
Contact reporter Jennifer Robison at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-4512.