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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Retail sales up despite high gas prices in Arizona

Bob and Mary Cockerham, owners of Car World KIA of Santa Fe, New Mexico, were forced to close three of their four auto dealerships due to the recession-driven credit crunch. As they struggle to keep their last dealership open, they’ve been unable to get addititional inventory financing or working capital loans. (Luis Sanchez Saturno/The New Mexican/MCT)

This year, Arizonans may be partaking in retail therapy.

Statistics from the state Revenue Department show that retail sales in January were $3.71 billion, a 5.4 percent increase since last January. The figure is also 16 percent higher than in January two years ago.

Joyce Serido, an assistant research professor in the Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences, said there are two possible reasons for this.

“First of all, people are tired of feeling bad and want to improve their well-being,” she said. “People also put things off for a long time and making the purchase make us feel better.”

December of last year was comparatively slower, with an increase of 3.7 percent in year-over-year sales.

The January figures come at a time when gas prices in the state are at a record high. In Tucson, the average price for gas is $3.723 per gallon as of press time, according to This is a 11.6 percent increase from last year. Serido said that even though prices at the pump are high, people in Tucson generally don’t have to drive as much as people in other areas, like those living on the East Coast.

“They’re buying cars because unfortunately there really isn’t many other ways to get around in Tucson,” Serido said. Many people are looking into buying more fuel-efficient cars that will help with the increase in gas prices, she added.

Sales for cars and trucks, however, have seen a double-digit increase over the past few months.

“There always are an increase in sales in this month,” said Joaquin Gutierrez, assistant manager at Enterprise Rent-A-Car. “You see consumer confidence rising. People have had the income, but they are in a better position to see that sale during this time.”

Gabrielle Miller, co-owner of Cry Baby Couture on University Boulevard, said she has seen a big increase in sales during the past year.

“There has been more traffic in this area (University Boulevard) in general,” Miller said.

Students who worked in retail also recalled January as a high-sales month.

“In high school I worked at Macy’s and the beginning of the year was always the busiest,” said Anna Lee, a media arts junior. “We also always had sales during this time, so that’s when all the smart shoppers would make big purchases.”

Lee said she hopes that retail revenue continues to increase.

“I think that it’s great that there has been an increase in retail sales this year. Hopefully this is a sign that our economy is doing better,” she said.

January sales

2012 – $3.71 billion
2011 – $3.52 billion
2010 – $3.19 billion
2009 – $3.39 billion
2008 – $3.84 billion
2007 – $4.27 billion
2006 – $4.03 billion
2005 – $3.53 billion
2004 – $3.29 billion

Source: Arizona Revenue Department

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