Lafayette retail sector struggling amid weak energy prices _lowres

 

The retail sector in Lafayette continues to struggle as weak energy prices cool Acadiana’s oil patch economy.

Retail sales in Lafayette Parish dropped 8 percent in July when compared with figures for the same month in 2014, from $536 million to $491 million, according to figures released Thursday by the Lafayette Economic Development Authority.

Year-to-date sales are down more than 3 percent, from $3.64 billion in 2014 to $3.5 billion this year, according to the figures. They are the most recent available because reporting by local businesses lags behind actual sales by several weeks.

The impact has not been felt evenly throughout the parish.

Year-to-date retail sales are still up in Scott by about 2 percent and in the city of Lafayette by 1 percent, largely because of a stronger showing earlier this year.

Hardest hit has been the unincorporated area of the parish and other smaller municipalities outside of Lafayette.

Year-to-date sales in the unincorporated areas were down 17 percent as of July, and in Broussard — a city with an economy heavily dependent on oil and gas service companies — retails sales were down 21 percent when comparing the first seven months of this year with the same period in 2014.

“According to LEDA’s forecasting model, total retail sales this year should be on par with 2012 totals, just under $6 billion,” LEDA President and CEO Gregg Gothreaux said in a statement. “Overall, the five current indicators LEDA tracks, including retail sales, are holding up — buoyed by a strong average home sale price and increasing airport enplanements. Monitoring the current indicators in the second half of 2015 will be crucial.”

LEDA’s release of the newest retail figures comes after a report on the local real estate market showed Lafayette Parish home sales slipping for the first time this year, dropping 12 percent from July to August.

Overall, home sales for the first eight months of the year are still ahead of the same period in 2014, according to the report.