|District-Assembled Vehicle Sales Growth 2009–10|
|Source: Automotive News|
|New Vehicle Registrations|
|Source: R.L. Polk|
According to U.S. Census Bureau data, both national and core (excluding autos, gas, and building supplies) retail sales in January increased 0.5 percent from December. National retail sales increased 4.7 percent from a year earlier.
January sales tax revenue throughout the Southeast continued to be down from a year earlier. Sales tax revenues in Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and Tennessee declined at a slower pace in January than in December, while Alabama and Louisiana sales tax revenues declined at a faster pace in January. For the region overall, sales tax revenue was 6.1 percent lower than a year earlier.
All states in the District experienced sales tax revenue growth from December to January, the first month-over-month increase since the end of 2005. Sales tax revenue in the District overall was up 6.8 percent from December to January.
The majority of District retailers indicated that January sales and traffic were lower than expected. Traffic and sales decreased from December to January as consumers continued to be cautious, searching for discounts that did not continue into the new year. Over a third of District contacts reported that traffic was lower, and more than half reported lower sales in January compared to a year earlier. Businesses continued to keep inventory levels low, and for the third consecutive month contacts reported they were satisfied with their inventory levels.
The outlook among merchants was mixed, with almost half of retailers expecting an increase in sales and a quarter expecting a decrease in sales in the first few months of 2010.
Vehicle sales in the District in January improved from weak levels a year earlier. Similarly, District-assembled vehicle sales were up 13 percent from weak year-earlier levels; nationally, sales improved 6 percent. Most of the sales increase was due to sales of 7,000 Kia Sorentos, which accounted for about 10 percent of District-assembled sales.
Regional vehicle registrations through December 2009 declined 1.5 percent from a year earlier.
From December to January, Mississippi's Gulf Coast gaming tax revenues increased 9.3 percent, from $83.5 million to just under $91.3 million in January. However, on an annual basis, revenues continued to decline, down 5.4 percent compared to a year earlier.
Smith Travel Research included six District cities in their list of the top 25 U.S. tourist markets in October 2009. Among the six, Atlanta, Miami, New Orleans, Orlando, and Tampa had occupancy rates above the national average of 49.4 percent from January 16, 2010, through February 13, 2010. Nashville was the only one of the six below the national average. Miami, New Orleans, Orlando, and Tampa also had average daily room rates above the national average of $95.35 as well as revenue per room above the national average of $47.04 for the same period. Miami had the highest occupancy rate, at 77.7 percent; the highest average daily room rate, at $197.93; and the highest revenue per room, at $153.78, of the top 25 cities listed by Smith Travel Research.
Preliminary figures from Visit Florida indicated that 80.3 million visitors came to Florida during 2009. From October to December 2009, Florida had 18.1 million visitors. An estimated 4.03 million Florida residents took in-state trips, or "staycations," a 4 percent increase from the fourth quarter of 2008.