National measures of consumer confidence in the economy have showed significant improvement over the course of 2017, climbing to their highest level since 2000. People are spending more, as national retail sales have grown 4.2 percent this year compared to 3.2 percent in 2016. Nevada has easily outpaced the national average in terms of retail sales growth in recent years, and that growth accelerated in 2017, with the trailing 12-month total for taxable retail sales through October 2017 trending 6.6 percent ahead of the prior year. In 2016, taxable retail sales in Nevada grew 5.1 percent year-over-year. If that 6.6 percent growth is maintained throughout the final two months of 2017, it would be the best year for statewide taxable retail sales growth since 2011, when growth reached 7.1. Odds are that the full-year 2017 numbers will roughly maintain that level of growth, as December is traditionally the most significant month for retail sales and national retailers reported record holiday season spending of nearly $600 billion in 2017.
Throughout the state, growth in retail sales has varied significantly between counties. For example, for the 12 months ending in October 2017, Clark County retail sales increased 3.8 percent year-over-year while Washoe County increased by 6.0 percent, both below the state total of 6.6 percent. The biggest recent gains have come in Storey County, buoyed by the significant developments at the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center. Retail sales in Storey County grew by 215 percent in 2016 and are up 242 percent in the 12 months through October 2017. This rapid growth has propelled Storey County, the third-smallest in Nevada by population, from 13th out of 17 Nevada counties for taxable retail sales in 2015 to third in 2017. In the past 12 months, this translates to over $420,000 in sales per capita in Storey County, compared to roughly $18,000 per capita in Washoe County and $19,000 in Clark County.
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