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Retail Sales Rise

FARMVILLE – Retail sales grew last year for the first time in three years, as total dollar volume actually set a Farmville record.

“It was a surprise,” said Town Treasurer Carol Anne Seal. “But a good surprise. You never know with the economy how it is whether it would have been good or bad.”

Total retail sales for 2010 were $342,751,217, an increase of 2.42 percent.

The economic growth followed declines of 6.63 and 7.35 percent in 2008 and 2009, respectively.

Total dollar volume clocked in at $553,121.219 last year, an increase of 11.46 percent, following declines of 1.69 and 8.37 percent in 2008 and 2009.

That 2010 total dollar volume exceeds the $550,902,315 of 2007, the previous high and now second best on record.

“I'm very pleasantly surprised,” said Town Council member, Dr. Edward I. Gordon. “I was expecting far worse and if you look at our economy we seem to remain stronger than many surrounding areas and what it's due to is probably multi factorial. I feel that this community works together as a group. We're always listening and trying to improve and take everybody into consideration but it was almost thrilling to see that kind of report when you hear of other communities falling apart. I was ecstatic.”

The Town of Farmville saw its BPOL tax revenue from the gross receipts tax jump by 7.05 percent, up to $1,252,662, also following two years of declines.

The BPOL tax is one of the Town's top two revenue sources and Town officials are paying close attention to annual attempts in the General Assembly to alter or do away with the tax.

“Yes, and there's where the scare comes in,” commented Dr. Gordon, who has been a member of Town Council's budget committee. “If the state ever changes that we don't have the ability to tax, for instance, like the County does. We don't have the ability to tax different things that different levels of government have. We're pretty limited in what we can create an income from.

“We've tried to stay a small friendly town and that's why we've stayed away from things that other localities make a lot of money on-trash collection and all of these things, the things other towns get involved in-and that creates a friendliness,” Dr. Gordon said following Town Council's April meeting on Friday, noting anybody could simply walk into the Town Manager's office to get a problem addressed.

If the state ever wipes out the BPOL tax, he wondered, “where's (the revenue) going to come from?”

The Town, he noted, is looking for the “least painful” revenue options.

Retail Categories

Within the just-released 2010 retail sales figures, grocery stores saw business increase more than half a million dollars, from $62,069,326 in 2009 to $62,657,787 last year.

Retail automotive sales jumped by more than $6 million, from $58.2 million to $64.9 million, in a category that includes car sales and service station revenues.

Restaurants saw a $1.3 million decline, from $38.5 million to $37.2 million.

The category of “all other retail sales” rose from $175.7 million to $177.8 million last year.

Wholesale merchants experienced a collective $5 million jump, from $23.8 million to $28.8 million.

Hotels and motels did $4.1 million worth of business, compared with $3.9 million the previous year, with contractors seeing an approximate $5 million dip in business, from $45 million to $39.9 million.

The “professionals” category, which includes doctors, attorneys, dentists, surveyors and accountants, experienced an increase from $28.3 million to $30.7 million.