Boost in retail sales expected in Moffat, Routt Counties

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Yampa Valley Partners Director Kate Nowak thinks the economy may be taking a turn for the better based on recent gross retail sales forecasts.

Nowak and Scott Ford, director of the Routt County Economic Development Cooperative, have predicted a boost in retail sales in both Moffat and Routt counties, according to Yampa Valley Partners’ third quarter regional economic forecast newsletter.

Gross retail sales in Moffat County are expected to top $35.8 million dollars in July, a 4.9-percent increase from 2009, according to the newsletter.

Partners estimated $35.6 million in retail sales for June, a 4.1-percent increase from 2009 in Moffat County.

Nowak said she expects sales to continue on a pattern of recovery from 2009’s economic slump.

The organization has also predicted retail sales in Moffat County to see a 4.3-percent increase in August and a 4.9-percent increase in September from 2009.

According to the newsletter, the organization expects Moffat County to see $32.2 million of retail sales in August and $31.8 million in September.

Gross retail sales include all tangible goods purchased by consumers or businesses in Moffat County, from things like clothes to food and business expenses to inventory, Nowak said.

Ford said the biggest contributors to the gross retail sales on the business side are the energy industry and its supporting industries.

On the consumer side, groceries, dining out, vehicle repairs and miscellaneous retail purchases are the largest contributors, Ford said.

Nowak feels the retail sales estimations are “pretty strong” and “fairly accurate.”

“I think we’ll be pretty close unless some kind of an event happens,” she said. “But, we’ve looked at the numbers and what typically happens in this quarter is going to happen this year. I don’t see anything different unless we get some kind of catastrophe. I think we will just chug along.”

Quarterly economic forecasts provided by Yampa Valley Partners are based on statistics and trends to determine where economic indicators such as retail sales and unemployment may land in coming months, Nowak said.

“The only thing we have to look at is the past,” Nowak said. “We are going to make some logical, reasonable assumptions on what we can see in the future.”

Nowak said Moffat County follows national sales trends for the most part.

“When you look at the trends, I think in summer people are taking vacations, spending money (with) back to school — those are all helpful things that we can see in the next quarter,” she said.

Routt County is projected to collect $74.1 million in retail sales in July, a 4.9-percent boost from 2009.

Nowak said she expects increases in retail sales to continue throughout the year baring minor bumps in spending.

She said retail sales predictions point to a “slow and steady” recovery of the economy in the Yampa Valley.

“The economy, in general, is very fragile right now, and I think that we are going to see some encouragement, but that is not going to be, ‘Yahoo, we are going for a ride,’” she said.

Another indicator leading Nowak to think the economy may be edging out of a recession is consumer confidence and spending indexes.

According to the Gallup International 14-day rolling average, consumer spending reached about $56 per day in January in the U.S.

In June, consumer spending had reached a high of about $75 per day, and as of June 28, consumer spending was about $64 per day.

Despite the ups and downs of consumer spending, Nowak said there seems to be an “encouraging” general upward trend of spending.

“Consumers are beginning to loosen their wallets, but they still are conservative,” she said.

Darcy Trask, director of the Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership, said she felt the predictions were “good news” for area businesses.

“I think anything that is not trending to the negative is very good news,” she said. “I feel like our retailers can certainly use that data to plan as they look out at the next few months for inventory control and pricing and merchandising.”

She said many industries are still down from where they were in 2008, but above sales from 2009.

“Some businesses are up from a year ago, some are holding steady, but most that I have talked to seem to feel like the decline is behind them if the national economy continues to recover,” she said.

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