ETSU economists Steb Hipple said today that with a "continuing recovery in retailing at the national level, the turnaround in retail activity in the state and Tri-Cities region cannot be too far behind." But, he added, the Tri-Cities region was late in entering the recession so the area will also be late in leaving the recession.
He thinks that by the summer months, retail conditions should be improving in both the state and Tri-Cities region.
Hipple's comments are part of his analysis of the fourth quarter retail sales for the region. The numbers from that analysis are not as encouraging as the outlook for this summer.
Sales fell 10.9% in Bristol, 5.0% in Kingsport, and 3.5% in Johnson City during the fourth quarter. Adjusted for inflation, real sales decreased 12.2% in Bristol, 6.5% in Kingsport, and 5.0% in Johnson City.
In comparison, real sales were down 5.1% in the Tri-Cities metro area and 4.5% in Tennessee, but increased 0.5% in the nation as a whole.
Data from the Combined Statistical Area (CSA) shows retail sales down 3.6% to $1,516 million. Adjusted for inflation, retail volume in the Tri-Cities metro area was 5.1% below the same period in 2008. The level of dollar sales and sales volume increased in Scott County, but continued to fall in the other six metro counties. The smallest decline in retail activity was in Washington (VA), followed by larger losses in Washington (TN), Hawkins, Unicoi, Carter and Sullivan Counties.
Hipple's report shows, retail sales were also lower in the other metro areas of East Tennessee. In the fourth quarter, Chattanooga MSA sales revenues fell 2.3% to $1,651 million, while Knoxville MSA sales were down 3.6% to $2,656 million. Adjusted for inflation, sales volume dropped 3.9% in Chattanooga and 5.1% in Knoxville (compared to the 5.1% decline in the Tri-Cities).
The full analysis plus the data sets can be accessed by CLICKING HERE.