Nevada sales up nearly 5 percent in January |

Nevada sales up nearly 5 percent in January

Y2K jitters didn’t keep Nevadans out of stores in January as merchants sold $2.19 billion in goods, up 4.9 percent over the same month a year earlier.

The state Taxation Department said Tuesday the January figure brings Nevada sales to $17.12 billion so far this fiscal year.

The state’s cut of sales taxes for the seven-month fiscal period is $344.4 million – up 6.8 percent over the same period a year earlier.

Last spring, the state’s Economic Forum had figured on 5.9 percent growth. The forum also assumed casino-related taxes would go up 4.4 percent. Instead, they’re up nearly 15 percent.

The two levies are the mainstays of Nevada’s budget, accounting for nearly three-quarters of the nearly $1.6 billion in revenues the state expects to collect by June 30, the close of the fiscal year.

Because of the higher-than-expected growth, the state now figures to end up with a total surplus of some $150 million by the end of the fiscal year.

The actual amount will depend on continued strong growth in sales and gambling taxes for the next few months. It also assumes no big surprises in other tax categories or other aspects of state finances

A breakdown of the $2.19 billion in January sales by Nevada merchants shows that the Las Vegas area accounted for $1.61 billion of the total, up 6.1 percent compared with the same month a year earlier. The Reno area had sales totaling $348.4 million, up 6.4 percent.

In counties outside the Reno and Las Vegas areas, Carson sales were up 1.8 percent; Douglas sales were up 4.9 percent, Elko sales were up 8.2 percent, Humboldt sales were down 6 percent; and White Pine sales were down 52.6 percent.

A breakdown of sales categories shows bar and restaurant trade, an indicator of tourist traffic, was up 12.1 percent statewide, general merchandise was up 12.4 percent, car sales were up 10.8 percent, clothing stores sales were flat, and building construction salws were down 30.1 percent.