Nevada's economic recovery barrels ahead as taxable sales surge in state, county

Nevada’s economic recovery continued in May as taxable sales turned in their best performance in half a decade.

Businesses statewide sold $3.9 billion worth of tangible goods in the month, up 6.1 percent from $3.7 billion in May 2012, the state Department of Taxation reported Friday. In Clark County, merchants rang up $2.8 billion, a 4.7 percent jump over $2.7 billion a year earlier.

Both state and local numbers posted their best May showing since 2008, shortly after the recession began.

“Local consumers continue to feel more confident in their personal financial situation, while visitors are generally spending at increased levels, barring gaming activity,” said Brian Gordon, a principal in local research firm Applied Analysis.

Still, sales languished below their 2006 peak for May: Statewide results came in 7.7 percent below a high of $4.3 billion, while the county’s numbers were 10.3 percent off a record $3.2 billion. May spending cratered in 2010, falling to $3.1 billion statewide and $2.3 billion in Clark County.

Local consumers focused in May on larger-ticket spending. Take dealers of cars and car parts, which enjoyed a 12.1 percent bump. Furniture purchases soared 11.1 percent, while clothing sales gained 5.4 percent. But the largest single spending category — bars and restaurants, at 28.4 percent of spending — improved 2.1 percent.

“Residents appear to be gravitating more toward items of value than to other discretionary options,” Gordon said.

Despite a surge in home-building, construction spending slumped 10.7 percent in Clark County, dropping from $41.6 million to $37.1 million, driven mostly by a drop in spending on heavy and civil construction. The numbers also show just how devastated the building sector continues to be: May’s construction sales were 76.5 percent below the $158.5 million spent in May 2008.

All but four Nevada counties — Eureka, Lander, Lincoln and White Pine — reported sales gains in May.

Gross revenue collections from sales and use taxes, which fund prisons and schools, totaled $308.1 million in May, up 6.6 percent from May 2012. In the first 11 months of fiscal 2013, which began July 1, 2012, taxable sales were up 6.1 percent.