Charlottesville and Albemarle County retailers combined made nearly 4 percent more in sales for the first six months of 2012, as compared with the first half of last year, with city sales more than 12 percent ahead but county sales falling more than 2 percent.
The figures were compiled by the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce and extrapolated from sales tax figures released by the Virginia Department of Taxation. The state returns 1 percent of the sales tax back to the communities in which the taxes are generated.
The figures show city and county retailers making a combined $10,873,330 in sales for the first half of 2012, as compared with $10,456,272 in 2011, a 3.99 percent rise.
City retailers made $4,961,992 in sales for the first six months, as compared with $4,419,366 in the first half of 2011. The sales are 12.3 percent higher than this time last year.
Sellers in Albemarle County sold $5,911,338 in the first six months of 2012, compared with $6,036,906 in the same timeframe of 2011, a 2.1 percent drop.
Officials aren’t sure why Charlottesville retailers saw such a surge, but note that several retailers, including Whole Foods grocery, moved locations.
“The way to look at this from a sales standpoint is in the aggregate, with the city and county figures combined,” said Timothy Hulbert, president and chief executive of the chamber. “As consumers, we don’t acknowledge the boundaries between county and town. We live in the aggregate. We go over the boundary lines multiple times every day and it’s irrelevant to us where the boundaries are. People don’t think about which locality we’re in while we’re shopping.”
Hulbert said city residents shopping in grocery stores in the county for several years will already have their purchases included in county figures. But those who shopped at stores that have relocated would be counted as increased sales in one jurisdiction and lower sales in the other.
“If you’ve been going to Food Lion in the county for five years, it’s captured in the data,” he said. People who went to stores in the county and now go to the city, that’s reflected in the most recent data for the first time as an increase and corresponding decrease.”
The combined figures show city and county retailers on track to have the third consecutive year of increased retail sales after the Great Recession hammered sales, decreasing purchases by more than 12 percent over the years 2008 and 2009.
Retail sales in Charlottesville saw three consecutive years of decreases until 2011, when sales for the year increased 6.33 percent over 2010.
Albemarle County sales rebounded in 2010 by 6.56 percent over 2009, but 2011 figures showed a lackluster 0.24 percent increase over 2010.
In the region, year-to-date sales for the first six months of 2012, as compared with 2011, are up 3.19 percent in Greene County, 12.98 percent in Louisa County and 8.29 percent in the city of Waynesboro.
Augusta County sales figures showed a 4.14 percent drop in the first half of 2012, compared with 2011.