Rockland-, Camden-area retailers see strong October, November

By Stephen Betts | Jan 31, 2019
Source: File photo

Merchants in Knox County saw strong sales continue late last year, with record or near-record sales in October and November.

Monthly figures released by the Maine Bureau of Revenue Services show that both the Rockland and Camden economic market areas had record sales in October. The Camden area set a record for the month of November, while the Rockland market was 1 percent off the record set in 2017.

The decline broke a string of four consecutive record-setting months in the Rockland area.

Rockland area

For the Rockland area (defined as all of Knox County except Camden, Rockport, Hope and Appleton), retail sales in October 2018 totaled $36.3 million. This was a 12 percent leap from October 2017.

The increase was fueled by rises in nearly every category of retail sales.

Motor vehicle sales jumped 40 percent in October from $6.5 million to $9.2 million.

Building supply sales rose about 5 percent from $7.8 million to more than $8.1 million.

General merchandise sales (those in department stores) rose 7 percent from $6.7 million to $7.1 million.

Sales of taxable items at food stores rose 5 percent, going from nearly $4 million to more than $4.2 million. Most food items are exempt from the state's sales tax and are not included in the figures.

Restaurant sales rose 2 percent, reaching nearly $4.3 million.

A miscellaneous group of stores that includes antiques shops, pharmacies, jewelers, sporting goods and gift shops had sales jump more than 10 percent, reaching $2.3 million.

The only category of sales that saw a decline in the Rockland market in October were lodging sales, which dropped about 1 percent to slightly more than $1.1 million.

In November, retail sales for the Rockland market totaled $32.2 million, a decline of 1 percent from a year earlier.

A 13 percent drop in building supply sales accounted for the decline. Building supply sales slipped to $7 million for the month.

Motor vehicle sales rose 1 percent in November, reaching $8.3 million.

General merchandise sales rose 3 percent to nearly $7.1 million.

Taxable sales at food stores rose more than 5 percent to $3.8 million.

Restaurant sales dropped 3 percent to $3.1 million.

Lodging sales declined slightly to $349,000.

And the miscellaneous group of stores had sales increase about 10 percent to $2.6 million.

Camden area

The Camden area -- which includes Camden, Rockport, Hope, Appleton, Lincolnville and Islesboro -- set records in both October and November.

Total retail sales for the Camden area in October rose 3 percent, reaching nearly $15.6 million.

The largest category of sales in October for the area was restaurants, which saw sales increase by about 10 percent to $3.7 million.

Lodging sales declined slightly to $3.4 million in October.

Building supply sales increased, reaching nearly $2 million.

Taxable sales at food stores also rose, reaching $2.2 million.

General merchandise sales increased, reaching nearly $1.3 million.

The miscellaneous category saw sales increase slightly to $2 million.

And motor vehicle sales declined slightly to $741,000.

In November, total retail sales for the Camden area rose nearly 3 percent, reaching $9.2 million.

Restaurants and food store sales each totaled $2 million. That was a slight decrease for both categories.

Building supplies and the miscellaneous group of stores each had sales totaling $1.4 million. Building supply sales were about the sam,e while for the miscellaneous group, it represented a slight decline.

General merchandise sales were about the same, at $1 million.

Lodging sales in November stayed about the same compared to a year earlier, at $763,000.

And motor vehicle sales were about the same, at $729,000.

Statewide, retail sales were down in October and up slightly in November.

Retail sales for December should be available from the state in about a month.

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