Nevada merchants sold just over $3 billion in goods during January for a 12.9 percent slump compared with the same month a year ago, according to a state report Thursday.
The state Taxation Department report shows that government tax collections based on the sales were down even more, 13.8 percent. The taxes totaled $227.5 million, including $62.5 million for the state and the balance for schools and local governments.
Taxable sales were down in 12 of Nevada's 17 counties, including the two biggest population centers of Clark County, which encompasses Las Vegas, and Washoe County, which includes Reno.
In Clark County, sales dropped 14.1 percent to $2.3 billion. Washoe County sales fell 17.1 percent to $392 million.
Sales by merchants now are down 8.2 percent so far this fiscal year. Taxes based on those sales are down 8.3 percent for the same period.
In Carson City, taxable sales dropped 13.5 percent compared to January 2008 to $56.1 million. That matches the 13.4 percent overall decrease in sales for the seven months of this fiscal year.
The biggest hit is a 22.5 percent decrease in auto sales, Carson's largest sales tax generator. Total sales just topped $12 million for the month and are nearly 27 percent behind for the fiscal year.
Other major categories including general merchandise sales and eating and drinking places were either flat or slightly up for the month.
Gov. Jim Gibbons stated the report shows "our businesses and citizens once again are feeling the effects of a contracting state and national economy, the slumping housing market and the increasing unemployment rate."
The Taxation Department report shows that restaurant and bar sales " viewed as good indicators of Nevada's tourism industry " dropped 13.3 percent in January, to $517.1 million compared with $596.5 million a year earlier.
General merchandise sales totaled $280.6 million, down 2.1 percent; clothing store sales totaled $188.2 million, down 10 percent; and durable goods wholesaling added up to $210.8 million, down 24.4 percent.
Vehicle and auto part sales statewide were $273 million, down 30.2 percent; building material sales dropped 11.6 percent to $133.3 million, although actual construction of buildings was up 45.3 percent, to $28.7 million.
"Although Nevada's economy continues to decline, overall construction activity recorded positive gains for the month, which suggests that we may be seeing some indications of economic stabilization," Gibbons said.
The sales report follows a recent state Gaming Control Board report showing that casinos won $908.6 million from gamblers during January, for a decline of 14.6 percent. Taxes on sales and casinos are the main revenue sources for the state.