The big improvement in retail sales figures in Washoe County during July drew oohs and ahhhs from the folks who follow these sorts of things, but a deeper dive finds that most traditional retailers weren’t big beneficiaries.
Instead of heading for shopping centers, Washoe County consumers sharply boosted their Web spending as worries about COVID-19 persist.
Even so, the top-line number was pretty impressive: The Nevada Department of Taxation said that taxable sales in Washoe County during July increased by 13.2% from the same month a year earlier.
Put another way, consumers’ spending increased by a little more than $104 million from last July.
But not all retailers shared equally in the largesse.
Online retail sales increased by $42 million in July compared with the same month last year. That’s an increase of nearly 172%.
In fact, the increase in Internet sales accounted for about 40% of the total increase in all retail categories during the month.
Among traditional retailers, the big winners in a stay-at-home era included hobby and sporting goods stores (up 33%), home improvement stores (up by 20.4%), health and personal care retailers (up 25%) and grocery stores (up nearly 13%).
The big losers?
Not surprisingly, restaurants and bars reported that their sales fell by 21% during July from a year ago. That percentage reflects some big dollars: A decline of nearly $25 million in business.
Clothing stores barely held equal to last year’s sales during July, and department stores eked out a gain of less than 2%.
Another set of figures finds that consumer spending in Washoe County still remains weak compared to its levels at the start of this year.
Opportunity Insights, a Harvard-based research group, uses big data from payroll companies and credit-card companies to generate almost real-time reports on economic activity.
As of mid-September, the group said consumer spending in Washoe County was running about 10% below its level in January, before the COVID-19 pandemic. That level of decline hasn’t changed much in the past 10 weeks.
Opportunity Insights also reported the number of small businesses operating in Nevada has fallen by 25% since the start of the year.