Business News

Economic Indicators

by Leslie Turk

2005 Retail Sales Jump 13 Percent

It seemed a big deal at this time last year, when overall taxable sales in Lafayette Parish increased 3.6 percent from 2003 to 2004, rising to a record-breaking $3.85 billion. But the influx of New Orleans and southwest residents into Lafayette in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita catapulted retail sales 13 percent from 2004 to 2005. For the year, sales rose to $4.35 billion. December, the biggest retail month of the year, showed an increase of 22 percent from December 2004 to December 2005.

Storming the Real Estate Market

Coldwell Banker Pelican Real Estate has taken much of the guesswork out of the impact of hurricanes Katrina and Rita on Lafayette Parish's real estate market. In its recent report, "The Year of Living Dangerously," the firm tempers the outcome of its calculations with the fact that Lafayette's best year ever came at the expense of fellow Louisianans to its east and west.

"The numbers are big, plain and simple," says Chief Operating Officer Steven Hebert. The parish experienced more than $465 million dollars in residential real estate sales in 2005, a 39 percent increase over 2004.

The accompanying Chart 1 reveals how the value of sold listings, which was already on the rise before the first storm in August, skyrocketed through September before beginning a slow decline back to more reasonable levels of increase. Sales reported in September to the Multiple Listing Service totaled 446 home closings valued at $93 million. The average month in 2005 up that point had been 257 deals valued at just under $40 million.

Chart 2 tracks the average price ranges of the homes sold from January to

August 2005 versus those sold in September alone; Chart 3, which compares September 2005 to the average five years ago, paints a clear picture of where New Orleanians want to live: central and south Lafayette Parish.

"The current situation has our market returning to normal, at least in terms of volume and activity," says Hebert. "[But] normal has become a bit of a relative term for all of us, as the events of the past year have probably changed out area, and certainly our local real estate market, for years to come."