State retail sales decline after months of growth

Kathryn Cargo By Kathryn Cargo

Aug. 6, 2017 at 10:30 p.m.

Although Texas retail sales fell in July, Victoria sales appear to remain steady.

Texas retail sales fell in July for the first time in nine months, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

The sales index moved down five points to -1.1, and inventories increased at a slower pace last month.

Despite the fall in state sales, the Victoria County sales tax revenue is still stabilizing and increasing, said County Judge Ben Zeller. County sales tax revenue in July was about $80,000 more than last July.

"Our July report was the best we've seen in a couple years," he said. "Our recent trend has been improving. The two-year downward trend has stabilized. I'm eagerly awaiting August reports to see if that holds."

Retail sales are only one factor that affect sales tax revenue, Zeller said.

Retail sales declined after growth slowed in May and June, said Amy Jordan, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas assistant economist.

The decline was slight.

The reserve bank conducts monthly surveys on the service sector that represent about 70 percent of the state economy.

One contributing factor to the decline is the wholesale of downstream energy-related products, Jordan said.

"We don't have a lot of insight of what other weaknesses could be right now," she said.

Companywide retail sales expanding across the U.S. also declined, Jordan said.

"With this, it's not the beginning of a trend," she said. "We could see retail sales pick back up again next month. We'll wait until we get our August results in to see whether it's a trend or not."

Randy Vivian, Victoria Chamber of Commerce president, agreed with Zeller that the economy is improving.

"We're seeing movement in the economy with the oil sector," he said. "I'm seeing more rigs on the road. I'm seeing more oil field-related trucks traveling in the community and on the road. I've talked to several oil field companies - it's not pre-bust yet, but it's definitely coming back as we see oil over $50 a barrel."



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