By Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau: Nevada consumers purchased $3.2 billion worth of taxable goods in February, a 10.2 percent increase over February 2011 and the 20th consecutive month of increases, the state Department of Taxation reported today.
A number of major taxable sales categories saw double-digit gains, including motor vehicles and parts dealers, up 22.9 percent; bars and restaurants, up 11.9 percent; furniture and home furnishings, up 15.4 percent, and general merchandise stores, up 16.9 percent.
Also seeing big increases were merchant wholesalers-durable goods, up 18 percent; clothing and clothing accessories stores, up 11.3 percent; and accommodations, up 25.7 percent.
The only major category reflecting a decline was the construction industry, which was off 25.5 percent over February 2011.
Both Clark County, up 11.1 percent; and Washoe County, up 10.7 percent; saw double-digit gains.
Fourteen of Nevada’s seventeen counties recorded an increase in taxable sales for February 2012 compared to February 2011. Only Elko, Humboldt and White Pine Counties recorded a decrease.
Compared to the May 2011 Economic Forum projections and based on department analysis, the general fund portion of the sales and use taxes is approximately 4 percent or $21.2 million above its forecast for fiscal year 2012 through February.
Bryan Wachter, director of government affairs for the Retail Association of Nevada, said the February report is encouraging for a number of reasons, including the big increase in the accommodations category, which reflects stronger tourism numbers.
Casino win numbers were strong in both January and February of this year.
“Very optimistic looking forward,” he said. “We’ve got reason to believe that March and April are going to be good months as well. We projected an increase in spending in the spring for Easter.”
The unseasonably warm weather has contributed to the increases in several of the categories, Wachter said.
One ongoing concern is Nevada’s 12 percent unemployment rate, he said.
“We’re still mildly concerned,” Wachter said. “We need to get people spending money and the best way to do that is to give them a job. But these numbers are worth being optimistic for.”
Bryan Wachter of the Retail Association of Nevada says the strong numbers should carry through March and April as well:
Wachter says Nevada’s 12 percent unemployment rate remains a concern but the February taxable sales report is cause for optimism: