Feb. 14, 2017 04:52 PM

Lafayette Parish’s $600.5 million in December retail sales, a 1.7 percent increase over December 2015 and the second highest single month ever tallied, boosted the 2016 total of taxable sales to $5.78 billion. That year-end total, however, is 3.8 percent less than sales in 2015, a decline largely attributable to falling oil prices.

In a bit of silver lining, figures from the Lafayette Economic Development Authority show that for the fourth month in a row, month-to-month sales were higher than the comparable month a year earlier.

In a December 2016 v. December 2015 comparison, taxable sales in all but three categories are up — ranging from 24.6 percent in auto to 1.2 percent in food. Month-to-month sales are down in apparel (-2.7 percent), building materials (-5.8 percent) and furniture (-15 percent).

Sales in the city of Scott ended the year up 1.2 percent. Sales in all other municipalities were down, ranging from 2 percent in the city of Lafayette to 1 percent in Youngsville and 15.8 percent in Broussard. Sales were also down 12.5 percent in unincorporated areas of the parish.

Within the city of Lafayette, total sales in the services category (e.g., hotel, leasing of tangible property, warehouses, and machine shops) show a 6.7 percent increase over 2015. Total sales in the food, general merchandise and auto categories ended with increases over 2015 — 5.6 percent, 1.6 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively. Sales ended down in all other categories — ranging from 0.6 percent for miscellaneous services (like book stores, junk yards, and florists) to 15.8 percent for building materials.

“LEDA’s forecasting model was on target for the year. Overall sales held steady, and many sectors were buoyed by modest increases connected to flood recovery,” says Gregg Gothreaux, president and CEO of LEDA. “It’s an encouraging sign that retail sales ended on an up note in 2016. It signals that shoppers have some level of confidence and disposable income available to spend. It is too early to determine if this increase in sales is a trend, but it is a move in the right direction.”

The hospitality industry is continuing its stable performance, with hotel-motel receipts in December totaling $5.25 million, 9.8 percent higher than December last year. For the year, the sector outperformed 2015 by 2.4 percent.

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