The Nevada economy is starting to sound like a locomotive finally climbing out of a deep valley, as the state recorded its fourth consecutive month of higher taxable sales than a year ago.
Statewide sales in October climbed 2.2 percent from a year ago to $3.14 billion, the Department of Taxation reported Monday.
Clark County sales accelerated 2.6 percent to $2.3 billion. Washoe County slipped 3.6 percent from the same month last year to $413 million.
Of Nevada’s 17 counties, 10 reported increases.
Nevada sales have risen four consecutive months, and Clark County has posted gains over a year ago in three of the first four months of the fiscal year.
Still, merchants are waiting for more convincing results, said Bryan Wachter, spokesman for the Retail Association of Nevada.
“At this point, we’re kind of wait and see,” Wachter said. “We still have unemployment that keeps creeping up.”
In Las Vegas, unemployment is running 14.3 percent, up two-tenths of a percentage point from the prior month.
However, retailers enjoyed strong sales for Halloween, and Wachter said he expects Nevada to exceed the 2.3 percent increase that the National Retail Federal was estimating for Christmas sales.
In Clark County, durable consumer goods — including motor vehicle and parts dealers, furniture and furnishings store and electronics and appliance stores — surpassed their sales from October a year ago. Furniture and furnishings rose 21.3 percent, electronics and appliances rose 16.7 percent, motor vehicles and parts rose 5.6 percent, and clothing and accessories rose 11.8 percent.
Accommodations shot up 17.5 percent, while food services and drinking places bubbled up 9.4 percent.
Food and beverage stores fell 2.8 percent.
The construction industry continued to post miserable results. Building construction was off 28.6 percent; heavy construction, 12.9 percent; and specialty trade contractors, 47.3 percent.
Taxable sales soared 43.5 percent in Clark County’s northeastern neighbor, sparsely populated Lincoln County, but the increase ran 1.4 percent in Nye County.
The gain for the first four months of the fiscal year was at 2.7 percent for Clark County and 3.6 percent statewide.
State officials are closely watching the general fund portion of the sales and use tax, which is close to the projections of the Economic Forum. The totals came in 0.08 percent, or $199,000, below the forum’s forecast for the first four months of the fiscal year.
Actual sales revenues gives state leaders a clue about how much taxes and fees must increase or spending drop to balance the budget.
Contact reporter John G. Edwards at
jedwards@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0420.