Holiday spending expected to be up despite economic downturn

By Nevada News Bureau Staff: Despite the state’s nation-leading unemployment, foreclosure, and bankruptcy rates, projections in Nevada point to a 6.4 percent increase in holiday spending this year, according to estimates by an information advisory firm.

“This projection of increased spending mirrors the growth seen in retail-specific sales during the first eight months of the year,” said Jeremy Aguero of Applied Analysis. “For several years, Nevada’s spending trailed national spending. This year, we believe that gap is beginning to close.”

According to the first Gallup holiday spending survey of the 2011 season, Americans expect to spend an average of $712 on Christmas gifts this year, which is essentially the same as the $715 projection issued last year.

However, this latest estimate remains significantly below pre-recession levels; in 2007, Americans estimated that they would spend an average of $909 per person. This figure dropped to $801 in 2008 and to $740 in 2009.

If Nevadans keep pace with this year’s national estimate of $712 per person, shoppers would spend an estimated $1.4 billion during the upcoming holiday season.

Mary Lau, president of the Retail Association of Nevada (RAN) said that based on recent taxable sales data released in Nevada, “We believe that consumer spending may be in a healthier place than it was last year.”

The annual growth rate in total taxable sales (including retail-specific and non-retail categories) is 5.7 percent for the month of August and 6.2 percent for the year-to-date; both represent solid improvements compared to the prior year.

However, compared to the same month in 2007, total sales remain down 13.3 percent for the month and 17.6 percent year-to-date. Taken at face value, these are grim statistics, but a look at trends in retail-specific taxable sales categories reveals several bright spots.

Statewide

– Taxable sales of clothing and clothing accessories statewide are up 14 percent year-to-date (as of August) compared with the same period in both 2010 and 2007.

– Electronics and appliance store sales are up 9 percent year-to-date compared to 2010, and are almost on par with 2007 levels, trailing by just 3 percent.

– Sporting goods, hobby, book and music store sales are up 6 percent year-to-date compared to 2010 and down just 2 percent compared to the first eight months of 2007.

Clark County

– Sales of clothing and accessories are up 16 percent year-to-date compared to both 2010 and 2007.

– Sales at electronics and appliance stores are even with 2007 for the year-to-date and 14 percent higher than in the prior year.

Washoe County

– Recreation-related spending remains strong in the northern county, with sporting goods, hobby, book and music store sales up 17 percent for the first eight months of 2011 compared to the same period in 2007; compared to the prior year, sales are up 2 percent.

– Sales by miscellaneous store retailers are up 20 percent compared to the year-to-date in 2007, and up 2 percent compared to the prior year.

– Clothing retailers are reporting sales for the year-to-date consistent with the prior year (up 1 percent) and 11 percent below 2007 levels; while negative, the change is not as severe as that faced by other categories.

Rural Nevada

– Sales reported by non-store retailers are up 14 and 15 percent compared to the year-to-date in 2010 and 2007, respectively.

– Rural county clothing retailers are reporting sales up 31 percent compared to the year-to-date in 2007, and up 5 percent compared to 2010.

– Sales of electronics and appliances are up 26 percent for the year-to-date compared to 2007, and are about even with the prior year.

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