Pueblo merchants endured a weak start to the holiday season.
Department stores reported a gain of less than 1 percent from a year earlier while smaller retail stores posted a decline of 2.9 percent, according to November sales tax data released Tuesday by the city of Pueblo.
The results track closely with reports that retail sales across much of the U.S. were weak at the start of the holiday season, including over the Thanksgiving weekend.
December’s sales report is due early next month.
Overall, November sales activity in Pueblo was little changed, up 0.9 percent from a year earlier. For the first 11 months of the year, sales were up 1.2 percent from 2012’s level.
“Local consumer spending was up slightly in November of 2013 compared to the previous year,” Pueblo City Manager Sam Azad said in a note accompanying the data release.
The city hopes the uptick was an indicator that the rest of the holiday season would top last year’s results, he said.
“November is the traditional start of the holiday shopping season. Therefore, an increase in spending in November is an indicator of a good December, typically the highest month in consumer spending and retail sales,” he said.
Among the bright spots in the November report was a rebound in early winter hotel room bookings, Azad said.
Last year, hotel bookings plunged in November. A similar drop-off did not take place this year, he said.
For the year, hotel revenues remained slightly down from 2012’s level, based on lodgers’ tax collections, he said.
In addition to department stores, auto dealers, restaurants and the city’s electricity and natural gas utilities reported higher sales, Azad said.
Auto dealers posted a gain of 2.1 percent from November 2012.
Sectors that reported a downturn included building material stores and telecommunication providers, he said.
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