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Restaurants, lodging places continued to feel financial pain in July

By Stephen Betts | Sep 22, 2020
Photo by: Stephen Betts

Restaurants and lodging businesses continued to see dramatically less income in July than is normally earned in summer months.

Overall, retail sales for the region — that includes all of Knox County and the adjacent Waldo County towns of Lincolnville and Islesboro — totaled $63.3 million in July, according to figures from the Maine Bureau of Revenue Services.

This is down 11.2% (nearly $8 million) from the record July set in 2019.

June sales totaled $57.1 million which was down 8.6% from a year ago. May sales were $47 million which were down 12%, and April sales totaled $34.5 million which were down 8%.

Restrictions on businesses began March 17 to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Those restrictions eased somewhat for restaurants and lodging places by July.

Midcoast restaurants earned $5 million less in July compared to a year ago ($13.6 million to $8.6 million) — a 37% drop.

Lodging businesses reported sales down nearly $4.4 million ($10 million to $5.6 million) — a 44% decline.

Restaurants and lodging businesses have felt the brunt of the decline in sales since mid-March.

Some businesses, however, have reported record sales in 2020.

Sales of cars, trucks, motorcycles and motorboats jumped nearly 14% in July compared to a year ago — $10.8 million to $12.3 million.

Building supply sales rose 12% from $10.9 million to $12.3 million.

General merchandise sales — mainly those in department stores — reported sales down 6%, falling to $9.5 million.

Food stores reported sales of taxable items dropped 8%, falling to $8.3 million. Most food is exempt from the state's sales tax and not included in the Maine Revenue Service figures.

A miscellaneous category of businesses that include gift shops, antique stores, jewelers, sporting goods and pharmacies reported sales of $6.8 million, down 1% from a year ago.

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