May 29, 1996 in Nation/World

Spokane’s Retail Sales Didn’t Keep Pace With Inflation In 1995

Frank Bartel The Spokesman-Revie
 

Retail sales slipped in metropolitan Spokane last year, new figures from the State Department of Revenue reveal.

It was the first time in nine years that the dollar volume of retail sales failed to keep up with inflation.

Countywide, total dollar volume (including taxable retail transactions by wholesalers, manufacturers, contractors, financial firms and others) dipped one-half of 1 percent.

Inside the city, sales fell 1.6 percent.

Adjusted for inflation, that means a drop in real value of 3 percent for the Spokane metro area and 4 percent in the city.

Unadjusted for inflation, retail trade - sales by stores, restaurants, auto dealers and so forth - rose 1.3 percent countywide. But inside the city of Spokane, dollar volume was flat, translating into a 2.5 percent real decline.

Sales by department stores and apparel shops were flat countywide before inflation, down after inflation. Adjusted for inflation, department store sales skidded 2 to 3 percent.

The new figures also provide the first solid statistics on what Spokane merchants already know full well was a not-so-merry Christmas shopping season. Across the metropolitan area, fourth-quarter sales by retailers rose 1.5 percent in dollar volume, and declined 1 percent adjusted for inflation. In the city, adjusted for inflation, retailing was down 2.5 percent.

It was the second year in a row that Christmas sales disappointed.

EWU honors Buckeye Beans owner

Jill Smith, owner of Buckeye Beans and Herbs Inc. Spokane, on Friday will receive the 1996 Entrepreneur of the Year Award from Eastern Washington University’s College of Business and Public Administration.

The former Whitworth College art teacher and weekend gourmet cook started her multimillion-dollar enterprise in 1983 with an initial investment of $1,000. Today Buckeye beans makes 130 kinds of soups, breads, chili mixes and specialty-shaped pasta products.

GU helps untangle Web

Gonzaga University’s Foley Center library, Spokane-based CompuTech and Associated Industries of the Inland Northwest have teamed up to help put local businesses on the World Wide Web.

The partnership will make members of Associated Industries eligible for discounted services, including World Wide Web home pages, Internet access accounts at CompuTech, and training in effective use of the Internet.

As part of the package, Regional Information Services at the Foley Center library will conduct introductory seminars, and CompuTech will offer advanced training. The sessions will be 8 to 10:30 a.m. this Thursday, and 3:30 to 6 p.m. June 12, at the Foley Center, cost $25 a person. For more information, call 324-5870.

Rural banks lag those in city

Spokane banks as a group posted strong growth last year, with assets rising 12.4 percent and loans expanding 11.7 percent.

That compares very favorably with 7.6 percent and 10.2 percent industry-wide.

But figures supplied by banking-industry watchdog Sheshunoff Information Services Inc. indicate small rural banks had a tougher time of it. Little Bank of Fairfield eked out just 2.3 loan growth, while tiny Bank of Latah’s loan volume slipped 3 percent.

Loans of Farmers & Merchants Bank in Spokane also were down 1.3 percent.

Financially, local banks as a group performed well above most others in the industry. Return on average assets, defined by Sheshunoff as “the best indicator of earnings efficiency and whether management achieved a favorable return,” averaged 1.31 percent among Spokane banks vs. 1.16 percent industry-wide.

Non-performing loans (those 90 days or more past due) as a percentage of gross loans was 0.56 percent, contrasted to 1.18 percent nationally.

In Spokane County, asset growth was led by Inland Northwest Bank, up 28.9 percent, to $84.5 million.

Bank of Latah grew 17.7 percent to $39 million. Bank of Fairfield gained 11.5 percent to $50.4 million. United Security Bank rose 10.5 percent to $129.6 million. Farmers & Merchants Bank expanded 6.3 percent to $155.6 million.

The largest Spokane-based bank, Washington Trust, surged 12.3 percent to $1.2 billion.

Income data show Washington Trust Bank’s made a profit of $13.9 million last year. Next most profitable was United Security, with earnings of $3.3 million, followed by Farmers and Merchants, $1.8 million; Bank of Fairfield, $702,000; Inland Northwest, $495,00, and Bank of Latah, $401,000.

Washington banks overall posted a banner year, with assets and loans rising 22.3 percent and 20.9 percent respectively. In Oregon, the comparable figures were 5.5 percent and 6.1 percent; in Idaho, 5.6 percent and 1.8 percent; in Montana, 4.4 percent and 8.9 percent.

, DataTimes MEMO: Associate Editor Frank Bartel writes a notes column each Wednesday. If you have business items of regional interest for future columns, call 459-5467 or fax 459-5482.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Frank Bartel The Spokesman-Review

Associate Editor Frank Bartel writes a notes column each Wednesday. If you have business items of regional interest for future columns, call 459-5467 or fax 459-5482.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Frank Bartel The Spokesman-Review


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