Maine’s retail and hospitality sales show strong start to summer

Shoppers packing bags with goods and tourists visiting Maine’s hotels and restaurants boosted taxable sales in June above pre-pandemic levels, despite surging prices for gas and labor shortages, recently released state revenue data show.

Taxable sales, which are from items or services the state taxes, reflect the general health of businesses in the state. They were up across most industry sectors in June compared to May and higher than pre-pandemic levels in June 2019. Total taxable sales reached $3.4 billion, up 16 percent from May and up almost 37 percent since June 2019. June is the latest month for which taxable sales data is available.

Restaurants, one of the hardest hit sectors during the pandemic by closures and business limitations, saw taxable sales rise more than $70 million from May to June, totaling $353.6 million, despite ongoing workforce shortages that are limiting business hours. Taxable sales were also up from almost $305 million in June 2019.

Other business sectors, including lodging and food stores, saw even higher monthly increases, reflecting an overall business recovery in the state. Lodging taxable sales were up to more than $83 million for the month to $211.8 million.

Food stores, including large supermarkets and small corner stores, saw $279.4 million in taxable sales, up 20 percent from May and up 3 percent from the year before. Automobile sales remained strong at $693.7 million, up 7.6 percent over the previous month and 34 percent over the prior year.

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