Mixed Retail Sales Reported for 2013

The Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce released it's annual retail sales report Monday, and the results were mixed.

According to the report, in 2013 sales were up in Albemarle, Augusta, Greene, and Louisa counties and Wanyesboro, but declined in Charlottesville. However, in the report the chamber states the drop could be due to a missing report.

"The evidence is pretty conclusive that one or two large retailers located in the city did not report in a timely way so that will show up in January, so that's good," said Chamber of Commerce IOM Timothy Hulbert.

Sales tax data in the report show that retail sales during 2013 when compared to 2012 were up in Albemarle County by 6.8 percent, but down by 3.6 percent in Charlottesville.

Hulbert says 17,000 people in the area work in retail, making it the second largest sector of employment. He says many localities has robust years because of job creation.

"Greene and Louisa have had good years because they've added to their retail portfolio with a Walmart and Lowes and that's going to continue," said Hulbert. "I'm pretty confident that folks in the city council understand that there needs to be some attention not only in retail, but the job creation overall in the city of Charlottesville."

According to the chamber, Albemarle and Charlottesville are the region's retail hub, accounting for more than for $2.3 billion dollars in sales in 2013. While that number is greater than it was in 2012, it still hasn't reached the highest level since before the recession.

The report found that Albemarle and Charlottesville saw sales gain in October and November, but had a "very disappointing" holiday shopping season, which was down significantly from 2012. According to the chamber, Virginia Department of Taxation data for Charlottesville showed a $15.5 million decrease in retail sales from the previous year.

The Chamber of Commerce said in a statement it suspects this may be because one or two larger retailers did not complete their report. City officials hope the adjusted amounts will be reflected in January 2014 reports.

"There would still be a decline in the city of Charlottesville, but a much more modest decline," said Hulbert.

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