Taxable sales up, but not in Carson City

Taxable sales for July were up in all but three Nevada counties, and Carson City was one of the three that didn't see a gain.

The reason: a nearly 18 percent drop in automotive sales, the capital's largest retail category. Auto sales dropped from $17.1 million in July 2010 to just $14.1 million this past July, a difference of 17.8 percent.

While the next-largest Carson category, general merchandise stores, was up 4.2 percent to $10.8 million, and building materials sales saw a 6.9 percent increase to $6.1 million, those positives weren't enough to offset the automotive drop.

But gains in several other categories - including a 431 percent jump in utilities, from $343,712 to $1.8 million - came close to bringing the capital back. The overall decrease in sales for the month was just 1.8 percent - a $1.1 million drop to $60.89 million.

Carson City Manager Larry Werner said it's his understanding that local dealers had trouble getting enough Japanese cars to sell in the wake of the tsunami last March. He said that that caused a dip in auto sales, but that it's coming back as more cars arrive now. He said total auto sales should recover because the situation has created some pent-up demand from people who want to buy a vehicle but couldn't get what they wanted for several months.

The other counties with negative numbers are Churchill and Lincoln. Taxable sales in Churchill were off 3.6 percent because of declines in large categories including wholesalers of durable goods, utilities and general merchandise stores. Total sales for the month there were just over $21 million.

Lincoln was hardest-hit with a 13.4 percent decrease in total sales to $2.6 million. Rail transportation was cut by 45 percent to $235,319. Automotive sales, which came in at $249,941, suffered a 47 percent drop.

Ten of the 17 counties saw double-digit increases in total sales. Nevada's two largest sales generators were both positive for the month. Clark saw a 2.6 percent increase to $2.4 billion, and Washoe had a 1.7 percent increase to $463.77 million.

Statewide, total taxable sales were $3.39 billion. Food services and drinking places saw a 10 percent increase. Construction categories enjoyed a 3.5 percent increase in sales - a rarity in recent years.

Douglas County was up 6.3 percent for July despite a 3.5 percent drop in general merchandise store sales, normally the county's second-largest sales generator. That drop was more than offset by a 4.4 percent increase in the largest tax generator, food services and drinking places - primarily the Stateline casinos - which reported $13.8 million total sales. Building material sales also reported an increase - 2.3 percent to $5.36 million.

Gross revenue collections from the sales and use tax totaled $266.2 million, a 5.4 percent increase over July 2010. The state General Fund portion of that came to $67.66 million. That is about $1.1 million more than the Economic Forum projections used to build the state budget.

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