Coming off a year-over-year increase of almost 11 percent and bolstered by the building material and food categories (we are, after all, now the "South's Tastiest Town"), Lafayette Parish retail sales in January were 16.5 percent higher than January 2011. Building materials and food increased 37.5 percent and 17.3 percent, respectively.

The momentum from a strong holiday shopping season appears to be carrying over into 2012, as the parish’s January retail sales totaled more than $427 million. Sales of more than $566 million in December pushed 2011 total retail activity to $5.34 billion — the second highest year on record after 2008. December sales were the highest recorded for any December, with the final tally for all of 2011 reflecting a 10.9 percent increase over 2010.

“Seeing strong retail sales numbers in January will continue to boost local consumer confidence levels in the first quarter,” says Gregg Gothreaux, president and CEO of the Lafayette Economic Development Authority. “National estimates for February retail sales are promising, and we see no reason to expect local retail sales to veer from that trajectory.”

For January, all other categories showed increases over 2011, except furniture, which is down 9.7 percent from 2011. The general merchandise category, which finished 2011 down less than 1 percent, saw a 5.1 percent increase.

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