Retail sales for Knox County set a July record this year but the increase still fell far short of the inflation rate.

Retail sales for the region — that includes all of Knox County as well as the adjacent Waldo County towns of Lincolnville and Islesboro — totaled $90.1 million. This represents a 3.4 percent increase from July 2021 which held the previous July record.

The rate of inflation from July 2021 to July 2022 was 8.5 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The $90.1 million compares to $87.1 million in July 2021, $63.9 million July 2020, and $71.3 million in the pre-pandemic July 2019, according to the Maine Bureau of Revenue Services.

The July figures continue a trend for much of this year with record monthly sales which were less than the inflation rate which is near a 40-year high.

Restaurants accounted for the single largest category of sales during July for the Knox County region, with transactions totaling $16.1 million. This was a 3 percent increase from a year ago.

Building supply sales totaled $14.9 million. This was a 10 percent increase from a year ago and the only category which saw increases exceed inflation.

Motor vehicle sales totaled $14.3 million, an increase of 3 percent from a year ago.

Lodging businesses had sales totaling $12.5 million during July, down 3 percent from a year ago.

General merchandise sales, largely those found in department stores, totaled $12.4 million, a 6 percent increase from a year ago.

Sales of taxable items at food stores totaled $9.9 million, a 2 percent increase from a year ago. Most food is exempt from the state’s sales tax and thus not included in the state sales figures.

A miscellaneous  category of businesses Рthat includes antiques shops, gift shops, jewelers, pharmacies, and sporting good stores Рtotaled $10 million. This was a 1 percent increase from a year ago.

July is traditionally the second largest month for sales in the region, exceeded only by August. Those figures are expected to be released next month.

The 3.4 percent increase for the region was much less than the statewide increase of 7.1 percent from last July as sales across Maine totaled $3.34 billion.