State's taxable sales down nearly 11 percent in November

Nevada's taxable sales fell 10.9 percent year over year in November, continuing the state's year-long double-digit decline in sales of tangible goods through the state's merchants.

The drop is smaller than the 15 percent to 20 percent declines that characterized most of 2009, but it's still sizeable considering taxable sales were down 10.9 percent from November 2007 to November 2008 as well. Economists had said they expected declines in taxable sales to flatten out once year-over-year comparisons included especially bad months from late 2008 and 2009.

Taxable sales in Nevada totaled $3 billion in November, down from almost $3.4 billion a year earlier, and down from $3.8 billion in November 2007, the month before the recession began. Of the state's biggest economic sectors, construction saw the deepest falloff, with taxable sales dropping 44.6 percent year over year. But declines in some hard-hit sectors appear to have moderated: Furniture retailers experienced a 10.8 percent decline, while car dealers posted a 9.3 percent decrease. Both industries had seen dips exceeding 20 percent for most of 2009. Business inside bars and restaurants slumped 10 percent year over year.

Taxable sales in Clark County skidded 10.7 percent, going from $2.5 billion to $2.3 billion.

In the first five months of fiscal 2010, which began July 1, taxable sales have fallen 18.1 percent when compared with the same period of fiscal 2009. Revenue collections on taxable sales came in at $235.1 million, a 6.6 percent drop year over year. The general fund portion of sales and use taxes, which help fund prisons and schools, is 3.1 percent below budget forecasts in the first five months of the fiscal year.

The Taxation Department's numbers come just days after the Economic Forum determined that Nevada will have $580 million less in tax revenue than what the state budget allotted in June. The forum, a group of five business leaders who determine how much revenue the state government will have to spend in coming fiscal years, drew its conclusion after hearing testimony predicting sustained increases in unemployment, as well as population declines, in Nevada.

Gibbons, who said Monday that he'll call a special session of the Nevada Legislature to deal with revenue shortfalls, released a statement noting the smaller drop in sales.

"The release of taxable sales and collection data for the month of November indicates that, although revenues continue to decline in light of the sustained weakness in the housing and job markets, the pace has slowed," Gibbons stated. "The administration continues to search for ways to save money, reduce spending and promote efficiencies in government."

Sectors that saw gains in taxable sales include utilities (64.8 percent), telecommunications (27.7 percent), clothing and accessories stores (2.7 percent) and management of companies and enterprises (70.7 percent).