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Tue, July 16

Struggling retailers surprised by improving sales tax figures

Christmas hit many business owners on the chin.

Greg Raskin was just one of them. He owns Raskin's Jewelers in Prescott and said he saw great September and October business, but it slid in December and ultimately led him to send an employee home early on Dec. 22.

When Raskin heard recent news that the city's sales tax revenue drop was in the single digits, it was a bit of a shock to him.

"I'm surprised it's only 8 percent," he said. "I actually thought it would be more."

On Tuesday, City Manager Steve Norwood told the Prescott City Council that November 2009 sales tax revenues were down 8 percent compared with the same month of 2008.

In October, city officials said sales tax revenues for the fiscal year's first quarter fell 15.8 percent from July through September compared to the same months in 2008.

Restaurants and bars, rentals of personal property and telecommunications were the only categories showing gains in the city's year-to-date figures.

Many businesspeople, such as Rhonda Strachan at the Prescott General Store in the Bashford Courts building, are struggling as December business is off about 20 percent compared to just a few Decembers ago.

Like Raskin, Strachan expected a bigger decline.

"I'm surviving but it has not been easy," she said.

Patti Kyle at Sassy & Chic on Cortez Street said business is tough as her regular customers think long and hard about an item before buying it.

Sales from September through November were good, but Kyle doesn't believe enough people shop downtown despite all the publicity and events meant to help drive sales in December.

"I think the economy is hurting a lot of our consumers," she said. "I don't know when it's going to turn around."


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