Local merchants reported record retail sales during March but the increase from a year ago was less than the annual inflation rate.

Retail sales for March, 2022 totaled $54 million for the region that covers all of Knox County as well as the adjacent Waldo County towns of Lincolnville and Islesboro, according to the Maine Bureau of Revenue Services. This was a 2.7 percent increase from March 2021.

The inflation rate, however, from March 2021 to March 2022 was 8.5 percent.

Three groups of businesses that saw sales outpace inflation were restaurants, lodging businesses, and motor vehicle dealers.

Restaurants in the Midcoast reported sales of $5.3 million during March, a 16 percent increase from a year earlier.

Lodging businesses reported sales of $1.34 million, a 46 percent jump from a year ago.

Motor vehicle sales totaled $14.4 million, an increase of 9 percent.

Building supply sales totaled $12.1 million during March, down 1 percent from a year ago.

Food stores reported sales of taxable items of $6.8 million, that was a 1 percent increase. Most food is exempt from the state’s sales tax and not included in the retail tax figures.

General merchandise sales, mostly those found in department stores and furniture stores, totaled $8.5 million. This was a decrease of 7.5 percent.

A miscellaneous group of stores that includes antiques shops, gift shops, jewelers, sporting goods, and pharmacies had retail sales totaling $5.5 million during March. This was unchanged from a year earlier.

For the first three months of 2022, the region’s retail sales totaled $136.4 million, an increase of 4.3 percent from the first three months of 2021.

Statewide, retail sales in March were nearly unchanged at $2.3 billion.