- Associated Press - Sunday, January 19, 2014

LAKE CHARLES, La. (AP) - A 1.8 percent increase in taxable sales over the past 12 months indicates Calcasieu Parish’s economy is moving in a positive direction, parish sales tax director John Collins said.

Collins told The American Press (http://bit.ly/1dNkrnJ) the increase doesn’t represent a boom but suggests consumer confidence is returning to southwest Louisiana.

Calcasieu registered $4.6 billion in sales in 2013 compared to $4.5 billion in 2012. With more than $62 billion worth of capital investments coming to southwest Louisiana, Collins expects that to increase further in 2014.

Seven tracked categories showed increased activity: food, apparel, automotive, furniture, building materials, miscellaneous services (hotels, hospitals, rentals) and motor vehicles.

Apparel registered the most significant increase at 13.7 percent.

“People are enjoying the benefits of employment,” he said. “People may be securing new wardrobes for job interviews as more job seekers come to the area.”

He also said increased vehicular traffic in the area is more evidence of a growing economy.

Categories that showed decreases for the period included manufacturing, utilities and miscellaneous businesses such as bookstores, tobacco shops and funeral homes.

“Consumers may short change one purchase for the acquisition of food or apparel,” he said. “One has to be a sacrifice for the other.”

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Information from: American Press, http://www.americanpress.com