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Douglas sees strong first quarter sales despite coronavirus

Grocery store shelves were bare of toilet paper on Nov. 20 hearkening back to the days of the March lockdown.
Kurt Hildebrand

Douglas County merchants wrapped up their first coronavirus quarter of 2020-21 ahead 18.1 percent, according to the Nevada Department of Taxation.

The first three months of fiscal year 2020-21 saw $253.1 million in taxable sales, up $38.8 million from the same quarter last year.

But with additional limitations placed on occupancy at county businesses, the question of whether sales figures will continue to grow remains unanswered.



According to figures released Monday, merchants sold $84.27 million in goods during September, up from $75.38 million in September 2019.

That follows August taxable sales that saw a 7.5 percent increase. Because Douglas does not generate sufficient taxable sales to support itself, it is subsidized by the rest of the state.



The county’s top category, food services and drinking places brought in $10.45 million, down 16.8 percent from the previous year.

However, its second largest category, general merchandise stores, made up for that with a 15 percent increase over last year to $10.07 million. The category includes sales in the two Douglas County Walmarts and the Target.

Nonstore retail sales doubled compared to 2019 with $7.37 million in September, up from $3.2 million. Most of that comes from online purchases, but there were also some changes in how the state accounts for that category. It will be the end of January before figures on cyber Monday and post Thanksgiving sales are released.

The home sales boom may account for increases in sales of building materials, electronics and appliances and furniture in September’s figures.

Electronics and appliance purchases were up 191 percent from $2.73 million to $7.9 million during September. Building materials, garden equipment and supplies increased 25 percent to $6.1 million. Furniture stores posted a 19.8 percent increase to $3.78 million.

Wholesalers of durable goods posted an 18.6 percent increase to $5.1 million.

Unemployment in the county was down to 6.5 percent in October, the lowest level since the start of the pandemic.

According to the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, 21,900 were employed in the county, with 1,500 residents on the jobless rolls.

The main source of the county’s gaming taxes posted another good month in October, with Stateline casinos bringing in $21.6 million, according to the gaming control board.

That’s up 10.87 percent from October 2019’s $19.5 million. The casinos are still running behind 7.22 percent during the fiscal year compared to 2019, with a total win of $89.4 million.

Much of that was due to a slow July as the casinos ramped up operations after being shut down for three months due to the pandemic.