|District-Assembled Vehicle Sales Growth 2008–09|
|Source: Automotive News|
|New Vehicle Registrations|
|Source: R.L. Polk|
According to U.S. Census Bureau data, national retail sales in October rose 1.4 percent from September, and core retail sales (excluding autos, gas, and building supplies) rose 0.5 percent. Total retail sales were pushed up by a 7.4 percent increase in auto sales from September to October. Retail sales overall remained slightly below year-earlier levels, and core retail sales were above year-earlier levels for the first time since February of this year.
October sales tax revenue was down on a year-over-year basis in five of the six District states. (October data have not been released for Louisiana.) Almost every state saw sales tax revenues decrease at a slower pace than in September. Georgia was the only state in which sale tax revenues declined at a faster pace on a month-over-month basis.
On a month-to-month basis, retail tax revenues decreased for most states in October, with the exception of Mississippi. Sales tax revenue fell 2.8 percent in Alabama, 2.7 percent in Florida, 3.8 percent in Georgia, and 4.3 percent in Tennessee; sales tax revenue rose 13.3 percent in Mississippi. Overall, District sales tax revenues have fallen 5.3 percent on a month-over-month basis and 4.3 percent from a year earlier (excluding Louisiana).
Our retail survey results continued to display positive trends in October. Respondents reported that retail conditions were continuing to strengthen throughout the region. Sales, traffic, satisfaction with inventory levels, and expectations for the upcoming months continued to improve. The majority of retailers reported that October's activity was at or above their expected levels, and many reported higher sales in October compared to a year earlier. Most respondents also reported that they expect an increase in sales over the next three months, reaching the highest reported level since September 2007.
District-assembled vehicle sales through October were down 24 percent from a year earlier; nationally, sales declined 27 percent. For the three-month period ending in September, District new vehicle registrations declined 18.9 percent. Nationally, registrations dropped by 11.8 percent.
Smith Travel Research included six District cities in their list of the top 25 U.S. tourist markets in October. Among the six, Miami and Nashville had occupancy rates above the national average; Miami and New Orleans had average daily room rates above the national average; and Miami, New Orleans, and Nashville had revenues per room above the national average.
While tourism-related spending in the District remained weak in October, many contacts in the region report that activity was surpassing expectations during the last months of the year; however, expectations were extremely low. Industry contacts reported that hotel reservations, particularly those related to conventions, were down. Room rates continued to decline in most locations as well. Cruise-line occupancy rates remained solid, but this trend was attributed to very deep discounting. The outlook for the next few years among District contacts is mildly optimistic. Hotels are booked into 2012, and in some regions hotel and airline bookings for the upcoming year already surpass those of 2009.
In October, Mississippi's Gulf Coast gaming tax revenues increased to more than $86.8 million from $85.3 million in September, an increase of 1.8 percent. However, revenues were down 10.5 percent compared to a year earlier.