Nevada taxable sales up despite uneven spending

Clark County owes a hearty thanks to car dealers and restaurants.

Those two sectors drove virtually all of the county’s taxable sales gains in January, a Thursday report from the state Taxation Department shows.

Businesses countywide sold $2.63 billion in tangible goods in the month, up more than $100 million, or 4.1 percent, from $2.52 billion in January 2013. Restaurants and dealers of cars and car parts were behind nearly $95 million of that improvement.

Not every sector enjoyed improved sales. Clothing and accessories retailers posted a 4.6 percent drop. Electronics and appliance stores saw an 18.6 percent decline. Building material and garden equipment and supplies stores showed a 2.3 percent slump. Construction-related sales fell 4.5 percent, though that was less dramatic than a statewide drop of 16.7 percent.

But car sales and restaurant revenue are such a big part of the overall sales base that they can cover for consumer lassitude in other sectors. At $292.5 million, sales of cars and car parts made up 11.1 percent of the county’s total. And at $738 million, bars and restaurants were the biggest spending category, with 28.1 percent of all sales.

In contrast, construction spending was just $43.2 million, or 1.6 percent of sales. Furniture sales were $49.4 million, or 1.9 percent.

Alyson Bettelman, a senior manager with local research firm Applied Analysis, said January’s countywide spending tab followed stronger increases in December and November, so it’s possible January sales slowed a bit as consumers shifted purchases into the early winter months.

Plus, January 2013 saw a brisk sales gain of 10.7 percent, so this year’s total looks relatively small in comparison.

January’s taxable sales were just 1.6 percent below sales in 2008, before the recession had swung in to full gear, Bettelman added.

Statewide, businesses sold $3.52 billion in goods in January, up 2.1 percent from $3.45 billion in the same month a year earlier.

Gross revenue collections from sales and use taxes, which help fund prisons and schools, were $277.2 million in January, up 1.8 percent year over year.

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