Nevada Sales Up In February

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Nevada merchants in February sold $2.87 billion in goods, a 13.4 percent increase over the same month in 2003, the Nevada Department of Taxation reported Thursday.

Taxes collected from those sales amounted to $215.6 million, a gain of 19.16 percent increase over February 2003.

The February sales brought the total for the fiscal year to $24.45 billion, up 11.2 percent compared with the same time period last year, the agency said. Sales taxes collected during the eight month period that began July 1 totaled $1.79 billion, up nearly 14 percent compared with last year

"For eight straight months Nevada's sales activity has exceeded normal expectations and revenue projections," said Gov. Kenny Guinn. "This is an indication of our economic recovery and short term stability.

"We are hopeful this positive trend will continue through the remainder of the fiscal year," he said.

Though cigarette and live entertainment tax collections fell short of projections, officials said overall collections from sales and use taxes through February were $30 million above projections set by the state Economic Forum in May 2003.

Guinn added that increases in sales and other new taxes approved by the 2003 Legislature should offset any shortfalls in tobacco and entertainment tax projections.

A breakdown of the sales taxes shows that Clark County, which encompasses Las Vegas, accounted for $2.13 billion of the February sales, up 14.5 percent; while Washoe County, encompassing Reno, had $434.9 million in sales, up 8.8 percent over the same month a year ago.

Only three counties posted decreased sales. Sales were off 10.1 percent in Eureka County; 7.1 percent in Pershing County and 4.1 percent in Lander County.

In other outlying counties, sales were up 4.3 percent in Churchill; 14.5 percent in Douglas; 7.9 percent in Elko; 43.3 percent in Esmeralda; 9 percent in Humboldt; 6.2 percent Lincoln; 25.5 percent in Lyon; 19.1 percent in Mineral; 31.2 percent in Nye; 4.7 percent in Carson City; 75 percent in Storey; and 82.7 percent in White Pine.

In year-to-date figures, only Lander and Lincoln counties show a decrease in taxable sales compared to last year.

Statewide, sales of auto and gasoline rose 17 percent; building materials were up 20.4 percent; and durable good were up 22.5 percent, the tax agency reported.

Sales in bars and restaurants, a key indicator of Nevada's tourism-based economy, rose 11.9 percent statewide. Such sales were up 13.1 percent in the Las Vegas area and 7.2 percent in Reno, the state's two main population centers and tourism anchors.