Retail sales slow for big-ticket items; apparel, grocery stores see uptick

New Hyundais pack the lot at Sterling Hyundai in Lafayette. Auto sales have taken a hit in Acadiana amid the local economic downturn related to oil and gas. New vehicles for sale in Lafayette June, 2016. (Photo: LEE CELANO/THE ADVERTISER)

(The Daily Advertiser) – As predicted, retail sales are down parishwide for the 14th consecutive month, but there are some industries seeing an uptick in business.

According to the Lafayette Economic Development Authority’s latest report, year-to-date sales are down 6.8 percent from 2015.

All parish municipalities are seeing a decrease in retail sales with a 3.4 percent loss within the city limits to 21.1 percent drop in Broussard, LEDA reported.

Sales in unincorporated portions of the parish are down 22.5 percent.

As the region continues to struggle with the oil and gas downturn for another year, sales on high-priced items like building materials, furniture and automobiles remain down.

But food sales, apparel and services like plumbing, electrical and painting contracts are all up from last year.

Grocery store sales are up 14.8 percent from 2015.  Restaurants are even seeing a small increase in sales at 1.5 percent.

Apparel sales, especially men’s clothing, are also up at 13.1 percent. Women’s clothing sales are up 3.2 percent.

With a slumped economy, consumers may be turning to more affordable pleasures rather than shopping for a new vehicle or home, LEDA CEO Gregg Gothreaux said.

“When it’s time to tighten the purse strings, big-ticket items are the first thing to go,” he said. “It’s hard for consumers to commit to an expensive purchase and perhaps take on debt, but buying a new outfit can be an indulgence or treat.”

Painting contractor sales are up a whopping 92.6 percent. Electrical and plumbing are up 23.2 percent, LEDA’s report said, but building material sales are down 25.6 percent from last year.

Consumers are holding off on big purchases and taking care of what they have, Gothreaux said.

“Electrical, plumbing and painting contractors are up for the same reason auto repair is up and auto sales are down: When times are tough, people take care of what they have instead of buying something new.”

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