February wasn’t a banner month for taxable sales, but it wasn’t a total dud, either.
Even as local sales flattened, most consumer-oriented spending categories showed improvement, and observers blamed the middling numbers on a couple of statistical abnormalities.
Taxable sales in Clark County fell to $2.41 billion in February, down 0.1 percent from $2.42 billion a year earlier, the state Department of Taxation reported Thursday. But February had one day less than 2012’s leap-year February, noted Brian Gordon, a principal in local research firm Applied Analysis. What’s more, a one-time adjustment in the beverage and tobacco manufacturing sector cut more than $36 million from the county’s monthly results.
“While the report for the month was essentially flat, it doesn’t set off any alarm bells, given anomalies in the data and prior-year comparisons,” Gordon said.
Still, the county’s spending patterns were mixed. Sales increased inside furniture stores, clothing boutiques and car dealerships, but dropped at bars and restaurants. Spending on meals out, which made up the biggest spending category at 26.7 percent, slumped 4.4 percent to $643.9 million. Construction spending dipped, too, falling 17.8 percent year over year.
Statewide, taxable sales jumped to $3.36 billion, up 4.2 percent from $3.22 billion in February 2012. Much of the change came from big jumps in four counties: Elko, where utility spending spiked; Nye, where specialty trade contracting made big gains; Humboldt, which saw increases in machine manufacturing and vehicle dealerships; and Washoe County, which had broad improvements in a number of categories.
Clark County was one of just four of Nevada’s 17 counties to show a sales decline. The others were Esmeralda, Lincoln and White Pine counties.
Sales numbers remain well below peak levels, but have also risen from the floor. Statewide, February’s figure was 12.2 percent below the month’s record of $3.83 billion, set in 2007. Yet, it was a 19.8 percent improvement over 2010’s low of $2.8 billion. County spending lagged its 2007 apex of $2.85 billion by 15.1 percent, but was 14.6 percent ahead of its 2010 nadir of $2.11 billion.
Gross revenue collections from sales and use taxes, which help fund prisons and schools, were down 2.34 percent year over year in February, to $265 million. The general fund portion of sales and use taxes was $66.2 million, up 1 percent year over year, but also 1.35 percent, or $8 million, below the forecast of the Economic Forum, a nonpartisan group that projects revenue for the state budgets.
Contact reporter Jennifer Robison at jrobison@reviewjournal .com or 702-380-4512. Follow @J_Robison1 on Twitter.