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.
Consumers continued to spend on general merchandise, where taxable sales rose 16 percent from May to June to $428.7 million and were up 22 percent since pre-pandemic June 2019 sales taxes.
Building supplies were also on a hot streak, stocked by the hot real estate market and home updates during the pandemic. Taxable sales were up 18 percent from the prior month to $351 million and up almost 15 percent from June 2019.
The state closed fiscal year 2022 with a $534.4 million unappropriated surplus in the general fund, which includes taxable sales and personal and business income taxes, according to a monthly report Department of Administrative and Financial Services Commissioner Kirsten Figueroa submitted to the governor and Legislative Council. June saw $100.9 million in general fund revenues that were 19 percent over budget.
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