Lafayette sees retail sales slump in May compared with same month last year _lowres

Advocate file photo by BRAD KEMP -- Shoppers Triniti Jolivette, left, and Destiny Lafleur look for some furniture on July 17, 2015 at Louise's Read Wood Furniture in Lafayette, La. Retail sales in Lafayette are down from last year.

Lafayette Parish retail sales were down by 9 percent in May 2015 compared with May 2014, a dip local economic development officials blame on weak oil prices slowing activity in the oil patch.

The figures, the most recent available because reporting is behind actual sales by several weeks, were released Friday by the Lafayette Economic Development Authority.

“This drop in retail sales is what we expected as a result of lower oil prices,” LEDA President and CEO Gregg Gothreaux said in a written statement. “We’re hoping retail sales in the second half of the year begin to stabilize as consumers adapt to the new economic climate.”

May 2015 saw $484 million in sales, compared with $535 million in May 2014.

April 2015 sales were off by 5 percent — $494 million in 2015 compared with $522 million in 2014.

Year-to-date sales as of May are down 2 percent from 2014, which was a record year for retail in Lafayette Parish.

Gothreaux said LEDA projects total sales at the close of 2015 will be higher than 2012 but will not cross the $6 billion threshold surpassed in 2013 and 2014.

The brunt of the blow in retail sales for May was felt outside the city limits of Lafayette, according to figures from the Lafayette Parish School Board, which collects sales tax in the parish.

Lafayette city sales tax collections in May were off by just less than 2 percent compared with last year, but a parish sales tax collected outside the city was down by 13 percent. Tax collections in Broussard, home to many oil and gas service companies, was down by 24 percent.

Despite the sales tax slump, another major economic indicator — home sales — offers a picture of relative stability.

Lafayette Parish home sales for the first half of this year were up 4 percent compared with 2014, according to an analysis released last week by Van Eaton & Romero Chief Executive Officer Bill Bacqué, using figures from the Realtor Association of Acadiana.

“Despite economic concerns centered around the oil service segment of Lafayette’s economy due to the precipitous fall in oil prices that began last summer, the mid-year numbers indicate that our local housing market has not been negatively impacted by those concerns,” Bacqué wrote in his report.

The news for neighboring parishes is not as upbeat, with sales in the Acadiana region outside of Lafayette Parish falling by 5 percent when comparing the first six months of 2014 with the first six months of 2015, from 797 down to 756.