Ringing Registers

After February dip, retail sales bounce back

Activity in the parish is up 2 percent over a record-breaking 2014.

More than $555 million in goods and services were sold in Lafayette Parish in March, a 1.1 percent increase over March of last year and the highest on record for the third month of the year.

Although sales were off 2 percent in February, year-to-date retail sales have now reached $1.5 billion — 1.9 percent higher than 2014 sales. 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, itself a banner year.

An analysis by the Lafayette Economic Development Authority shows that within the city of Lafayette, building materials increased 8 percent, the largest for all categories. Other categories showing increases — ranging from 6.5 percent to 0.6 percent — are food, auto, furniture, services and other. While sales in general merchandise are down for a second month (1.1 percent), apparel sales rebounded in March and are up 0.6 percent.

“We are still calculating LEDA’s official projections; however, retail sales should be near the $6 billion mark in 2015,” says Gregg Gothreaux, LEDA’s president and CEO. “LEDA will continue to closely monitor and report on retail sales as the year progresses.”

In another barometer of economic activity, March hotel/motel receipts were down 5.2 percent from March last year, totaling $7.8 million. The March drop brought the year-to-date hotel/motel receipts down slightly, to 0.2 percent.