Nevada taxable sales grow nearly 8 percent in June

Nevada's taxable sales continued their two-year march onward and upward in June.

As the state's job market steadied and consumers felt better about the economy, businesses moved hundreds of millions of dollars more in cars, clothes and restaurant meals than they sold a year earlier. Even construction joined in, as business improved for specialty contractors such as electricians and plumbers.

Taxable sales jumped 7.9 percent statewide, to $3.9 billion, up from $3.6 billion in June 2011, the state Department of Taxation reported Wednesday. In Clark County, sales spiked 8.9 percent, to $2.9 billion, up from $2.6 billion a year earlier.

After plummeting by double-digit percentages in the recession, taxable sales have increased in the 5 percent to 10 percent range year over year in most months for more than a year, noted Brian Gordon, a principal in local research firm Applied Analysis.

"The consumer base is starting to report a more stabilized pattern of consumption, and the trend lines are expected to generally continue to move in a positive direction," Gordon said.

Dealers of cars and car parts posted an especially big June, with sales gains of 17.4 percent statewide and 19.6 percent in Clark County. Bars and restaurants - the biggest spending category, with 26.4 percent of Clark County's total - increased 3.8 percent statewide and 3.5 percent locally. Clothing and accessories stores saw a 6.7 percent increase both statewide and in the county. Merchant wholesalers of durable goods such as appliances and heavy office equipment expanded their sales 16.3 percent across Nevada and 19.4 percent in Clark County.

Construction-related sales increased as well, rising 7.3 percent statewide and 9.4 percent in Clark County. Activity involving construction of buildings fell, but gains in heavy and civil engineering construction and specialty contracting more than made up the difference.

Still, Gordon signaled caution: It was just one month of building improvement and construction spending was off 11 percent to 30 percent for the fiscal year.

"A one-month increase is a welcome sign, but it doesn't suggest by any means that we've turned the corner," he said.

Plus, June's overall sales were 11.7 percent off of a county peak for the month of $3.24 billion, reached in 2006. June sales for Nevada also peaked in 2006, at $4.49 billion. The state was 12.9 percent below that high in the most recent figures.

"The economy continues to expand, but it remains fragile and is seeking to find its footing for future growth," Gordon said.

Gross revenue collections from sales and use taxes totaled $302.2 billion in June, up 6 percent from the same month a year ago.

Collections help fund schools and prisons, among other public services.

Contact reporter Jennifer Robison at jrobison@review or 702-380-4512. Follow @J_Robison1 on Twitter.