Yampa Valley Partners: Retail sales see boost

Group says increase to continue throughout year

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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 Routt and Moffat counties, according to Yampa Valley Partners’ third quarter regional economic forecast newsletter.

Routt County is projected to collect $74.1 million in retail sales in July, a 4.9 percent boost from 2009. Gross retail sales in Moffat County are expected to top $35.8 million dollars in July, also a 4.9 percent increase from 2009, according to the newsletter.

Year-over-year percentage increases are forecast to be similar in August and September for Routt and Moffat counties, according to Yampa Valley Partners.

Nowak said she expects increases in retail sales to continue throughout the year barring 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.

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

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

Nowak said she thinks 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 Routt and Mof­­­fat counties follow national sales trends for the most part.

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 a general upward trend of spending.

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

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