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May sales show restaurants, lodging income plummet

Building supply stores, auto dealers, grocery stores report higher sales
By Stephen Betts | Jul 21, 2020
Photo by: Stephen Betts Downtown Rockland in a pre-pandemic summer month.

Restaurants and lodging businesses saw sales plummet in May from what would normally be a month in which the annual summer surge would start.

Overall retail sales during May for the region that includes Knox County as well as the adjacent Waldo County towns of Lincolnville and Islesboro fell 8% compared to a year ago, according to figures from the Maine Bureau of Revenue Services.

Retail sales totaled $47 million in May, down from $51 million in May 2019 which was a record year for the month.

This follows an April which was down 12% from a year earlier. March sales were up 2% from a year earlier.

Pandemic related restrictions and closures began in mid-March.

Restaurants and lodging businesses experienced the worst impacts from the closures and restrictions.

Local restaurants reported sales of $3.5 million during May, down more than 50% from $7.2 million in May 2019.

Lodging businesses saw sales plummet from $2.3 million in May 2019 to $352,000 in May this year. That represents an 85% drop. The lodging figures include short-term rentals.

General merchandise stores — department stores and furniture stores — reported sales down 18%, falling to $6.5 million.

The residential construction business remained strong as building supply stores reported record May sales, topping $12.6 million. This was a 13% jump from a year earlier.

Grocery stores recorded sales of nearly $6.5 million, a 2% increase from a year ago.

Motor vehicle dealers — including the sales of motorboats — reported sales up 8%, reaching $11.7 million.

A miscellaneous group of stores — that include gift shops, antiques stores, pharmacies, sporting goods and jewelry — reported sales up 12%, reaching $5.8 million.

Statewide, retail sales fell 3% from slightly more than $1.9 billion in May 2019 to $1.84 billion during May 2020.

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