Charlottesville/Albemarle Retail Sales Exodus Continues

By. Neil Williamson

The Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce today (2/11) released their compiled sales tax data report showing Charlottesville, Albemarle and Augusta have declining retail sales while retail sales have grown in Greene Louisa and Waynesboro.  

From the Chamber’s media release:

Virginia Department of Taxation sales tax data compiled from the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center showed that retail sales during 2009 (January through December) compared to the full 2008 year were down in Albemarle County -9%; in Charlottesville -7.82%; in Augusta County -19.54%; while retail sales in 2009 rose in Greene County, +14.47%; Louisa County, +11.99%; and, Waynesboro, +1.11%.

Albemarle and Charlottesville, the region’s retail hub, accounted for $2.08 billion in total retail sales over the full course of 2009 – down by $190 million from 2008 and lower by $233 million (10%) from 2006 levels. (The Chamber started tracking area retail sales tax data in 2006.)  In addition to the loss in retail associated jobs and private investment, the decline in retail sales equates to a 2009 local tax revenue loss of more than $1.14 million for Albemarle and a loss of more than $782,000 for Charlottesville.  Meanwhile the retail sales gains in Greene County represented a 2009 local tax revenue growth of $149,000 while retail sales gains in Louisa County represented a 2009 local tax revenue increase of $231,000.

In reading the report, The Free Enterprise Forum was interested how important the retail sector is to our economy nationally.  According to the the National Retail Federation:

The National Retail Federation (NRF) is the world’s largest retail trade association … represents an industry with more than 1.6 million U.S. retail establishments, more than 24 million employees – about one in five American workers – and 2008 sales of $4.6 trillion.

One has to wonder if consumer confidence is critical to our national economy and retail sales are slipping in Charlottesville and Albemarle but growing in other neighboring communities, how will this shift in local consumer spending impact our overall economic health?  Can the trend be changed?  Should it be? 

Once again we find more questions than answers.

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20070731williamson Neil Williamson is the President of The Free Enterprise Forum, a privately funded public policy organization covering the City of Charlottesville as well as Albemarle, Greene, Fluvanna and Nelson County.  For more information visit the website www.freeenterpriseforum.org

 

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