Quincy retail sales hit record in 2013, though sales fell off in December

Posted: Apr. 21, 2014 8:37 am Updated: May. 12, 2014 8:42 am

Herald-Whig Senior Writer

Quincy retail sales set a record in 2013, even though December sales figures fell short of previous years.

Quincy Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Amy Looten believes inflation and concerns about the Affordable Care Act may have caused shoppers to be cautious. She said tough competition among retailers also may have forced them to lower prices.

"Our retailers offered extreme sales to encourage shoppers to buy in a short Christmas season, and that may have lowered a shopper's total purchase," Looten said. "It also may reflect the fact that local residents may have been a little hesitant to spend as much on gifts because of an increase or an anticipated increase in local household expenses, especially increases in health care."

Sales figures for the community are extrapolated from sales taxes and purchase taxes remitted to the state each month and later returned to the city. December collections, which were reported in March, showed sales tax collections for 2013 totalled $9.27 million. That was up more than $340,000 from 2012's total. However, December sales tax collections fell by $13,000 when compared with 2012 and were down nearly $35,000 compared with record collections in December 2011.

Travis Brown of the Historic Quincy Business District said the timing of sales also may have led to stronger sales in November and weaker sales in December.

"Thanksgiving was almost a week earlier than it usually is ... and so many of the national chains are doing sales before Black Friday. Even the smaller retailers see that trend, and everything is driving them to offer the best deals they can," Brown said.

Shari Tobias, owner of Talayna's Restaurant at 615 Hampshire, said winter weather also hit businesses starting in December and continuing through early March.

"It was like some of the winters we had when I was a kid. It snowed in December and we never really got rid of the snow" as a series of storms and cold weather held sway, Tobias said.

Bad weather also may still be reflected in Quincy's sales tax figures from January and February.

Brown said downtown retailers have told him the first quarter of 2014 will reflect poor sales figures.

"March might take an uptick in sales, but retailers I have talked to said January and February were some of the leanest they've seen," Brown said.

Commerce Department data released last week confirmed that March was a good month nationally. Retail sales rose 1.1 percent on the month, the largest gain since September 2012. March auto sales were especially strong, up 3.1 percent, the largest gain since May 2007.

Clark Hodges, a financial strategist with Hodges Capital of Dallas, Texas, said retail sales account for two-thirds of the U.S. economy and depend on average people spending money.

"So much of this is psychology. If people feel wealthy, they spend money and the economy improves. If they're scared or nervous, they stop spending. It becomes almost a chicken and egg thing," Hodges said.

Looten said differences in the calendar, in the weather and in consumer confidence make it clear why retailers can't set a record every year.



Yearly sales taxes collected

2013     2012     2011

$9,272,661     $8,928,331     $8,699,263

Yearly Home Rule taxes collected

2013     2012     2011

$9,245,447     $9,193,544     $8,939,470

Sales taxes

Dec. 2013     Dec. 2012     Dec. 2011

$929,712     $942,713     $974,475

Home Rule

Dec. 2013     Dec. 2012     Dec. 2011

$997,361     $1,045,671     $1,074,029