Report: Positive signs for retail growth in Virginia

Published: May. 24, 2022 at 3:01 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Sales tax revenue is increasing across seven counties in Virginia, according to numbers compiled by the Free Enterprise Forum.

“The first quarter of 2022 was a positive quarter for all localities that we track, which means that the sales increase over and above where they were in 2020,” Neil Williamson with FEF said.

Williamson says inflation is embedded in the forum’s findings: “Whatever you pay for something is reflected in the sales tax because it’s a direct multiple of that,” he said.

Fluvanna County saw an increase of 16.29%, the largest in the area.

“One thing to note is that it is a smaller base. So the percentage that represents about $90,000 in total, whereas the Albemarle amount - which went up only 11.52% - represents about a half million dollars in new sales tax revenue,” Williamson said.

He believes Charlottesville will continue to see economic growth.

“Charlottesville fell the most in 2019-20. They dropped 11% if I remember right for that year, so they had a long way to go back. I believe that Charlottesville’s retail sector is a very strong sector for them, and far beyond just the Downtown Mall,” Williamson said.

Greene County and Waynesboro saw less than 5% sales growth.

“That may be concerning, may not and looking deeper into the data, Waynesboro, for instance, actually had negative growth in January. They may have had some weather issues that impacted that,” Williamson said. “Augusta County also was lower in January, but rebounded more in February and March. So the data suggests that sales are solid, but there are some concerns looming out on the horizon.”

Williamson believes these finds tell us these areas are becoming more self-sufficient. Any sort of hiccup in the next few months will be reflected in the next report.

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