Surging car and truck sales in Shoshone County helped taxable sales skyrocket there during the second quarter of this year, Idaho Tax Commission numbers show.
“We’re just having a record year for sales,” said Ken Smith of Dave Smith’s dealership in Kellogg. “I think the mines do have more people working at them, and there seems to be a lot more people moving into the area.”
Fueled by a 52 percent rise in auto sales, Shoshone saw a near 25 percent increase in the sales of goods and services compared to last year’s second quarter, giving it the best performance in the Panhandle.
The Silver Valley’s strength helped Panhandle taxable sales numbers rise 2.6 percent in April, May and June compared to the same three months in 1995.
Taxable sales are a broad measure of the economy, reflecting everything sold except for wholesale items and government purchases.
In Kootenai County, taxable sales rose 3 percent from the same time last year. Sales of building materials rose 32 percent, reflecting the area’s robust construction economy.
As in Shoshone County, car sales in Kootenai County also rose, but just 11 percent. Sales from hotel and motel lodging rose 23 percent at a time when the region was between ski and summer seasons.
Sales of materials from sawmills in Kootenai County dropped 26 percent, though much of the sales in the category are untaxed. The lumber products market has been weak, and the Kootenai County numbers probably reflect last year’s closure of the Louisiana-Pacific sawmill in Post Falls.
The second quarter of 1995 marked the first drop in Kootenai County taxable sales in the decade. Sales jumped as much as 14 percent in Kootenai County’s 1993 second quarter, and in other quarters more than 20 percent compared year-to-year. Sales across the Panhandle have been moderating as the economy slows.
Taxable sales in Bonner and Boundary counties were slightly lower compared to second quarter last year. Benewah County sales rose 5.4 percent.
In Shoshone County, activity surrounding the Hollywood production of “Dante’s Peak,” a big-budget disaster picture, clearly improved sales in many areas.
About 65 percent more building materials were sold and leasing and rental companies saw sales rise 58 percent. The movie company rented many of the available apartments, condominiums and hotel rooms in the Silver Valley to accommodate the actors and crew.
The movie’s impact will continue through the third quarter of the year, which started in July. The production ended filming in early August.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Graphic: Panhandle retail sales