Local news

Retail sales rise slightly, with fuel the biggest factor

Retail sales in Spokane County inched up slightly in the first quarter of 2011, mostly due to increased costs for fuel, area economists said.

Retail sales for Spokane County grew by 2.7 percent from November through January, said Eastern Washington University economist Grant Forsyth. Because the reporting of the numbers is delayed, economists label them first quarter 2011. They’re measured against the same time period one year earlier.

Forsyth said those numbers indicate the area economy is still affected by the economic downturn. “Until we see a return to regional income growth, taxable sales will be muted,” Forsyth said.

Avista Chief Economist Randy Barcus said the numbers include the holiday shopping season. “They turned out better than expected,” Barcus said.

Tom Sowa

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