Editorial

Summer sales figures show area is on the upswing

Monday, November 7, 2005

It takes a while to calculate sales tax collections in Nebraska and report back to the public on the results. The latest reports -- issued in late October and early November -- were for the July reporting period. With so much going on, it's hard to remember all that was happening three months ago, other than the fact that -- as usual -- it was hot.

But, even at this later date, the news from mid-summer was positive for this region.

Most striking was the upswing in motor vehicle sales in Southwest Nebraska. In a five-county area -- Red Willow, Hayes, Hitchcock, Frontier and Furnas -- car and truck sales in July '05 totaled $3,968,016, an impressive 23 percent above the $3,215,522 in vehicle sales in July '04.

Despite dropoffs in car and truck sales in Dundy and Chase counties, the Southwest area still showed a 7.6 percent increase from July 2004 to July 2005.

The area's increased vehicle sales becomes even more impressive when compared to statewide vehicle sales, which were 2.7 percent lower in July '05 than they were in July '04.

Southwest Nebraska also did well in other business categories, as shown by the area's increase of $950,000 in net taxable retail sales from July '04 to July '05. The total taxable sales in the seven-county area was $18.8 million. If food, which is not taxed, were included, the total would have topped $20 million.

In July 2005, the taxable sales total in Red Willow County was $11,493,638, of which $11,138,211 was recorded in McCook. Taxable sales in other Southwest Nebraska counties were: Chase, $2,615,493; Furnas, $2,456,914; Hitchcock, $863,936; Frontier, $676,753; Dundy, $672,002; and Hayes, $85,157.

Combined, the seven counties contributed more than a million dollars in sales taxes to the state in July, plus additional thousands in local sales taxes.

A few large purchases can make a big difference in numbers on a monthly basis. For example, Hayes County's taxable sales leaped 32 percent from July '04 to July '05, with the total rising by more than $20,000 from $64,251 to $85,157. Hitchcock County also had a sizable increase, climbing 13.8 percent from last July to this July.

While a one-month look does not present a precise picture of sales volume, it is helpful to keep tabs on what is happening business-wise in Southwest Nebraska.

As is shown by the increase in tax collections for cars, trucks and general merchandise, sales are on the upswing. That's healthy for this area, which is keeping pace with the state as a whole in sales increases.

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