After a month that registered as the highest January in the parish’s history, February retail sales declined 1.76 percent from February a year ago, the first of two potential signs the economy is being impacted by falling oil prices.
February hotel/motel receipts are also down from 2014 totals. Receipts for February totaled $6.7 million, 3.49 percent less than 2014.
On the bright side, retail sales for the first two months of the year are still outpacing 2014.
In February, $466 million in goods and services were sold in Lafayette Parish, bringing the total sold for the first two months to $950 million, 2.4 percent more than the same period last year. Lafayette Parish broke a record in 2014 with a total of $6.4 billion in taxable sales, a 6.5 percent increase over the $6 billion in 2013, which itself was a banner year.
Initially, the trend appeared to be continuing into January, when retail sales tallied more than $484 million, the highest January on record and a 6.73 increase over January last year.
“Retail sales in February are off from last year; however, it is too soon to forecast the long-term implications,” says LEDA’s Gregg Gothreaux. “Because retail sales is a current economic indicator, one that adjusts at the same time as the overall economy, LEDA will continue to closely monitor these numbers to gauge the impact of oil prices.”
The Lafayette Economic Development Authority’s review of sales within the city show that building materials continue to be strong, posting the largest increase, 11.5 percent. Other categories revealing increases — ranging from 5.3 percent to 0.4 percent — are food, auto, furniture and services. Sales in apparel and general merchandise are both down— 1.7 percent and 2.3, respectively.
Read more about how the local economy is faring in LEDA’s fourth quarter Economic Performance Index, just out in the April-May ABiz.