Utah’s Economy: Retail Sales Hit All-Time High in 2015

Utah_Economy133June2016.pdfUtah’s economy closed 2015 with a total $27.8 billion in retail sales. The previous record (inflation adjusted) of $27.6 billion was set in 2007, closing out that year alongside the beginning of the 2007/2008 financial crisis. Retail sales had reached unsustainable levels, due in part by easy credit, which had been facilitated by rapid rising housing prices and the willingness of households to take on excessive levels of debt Table 1, Figure 1.

While the direction and strength of total retail sales is an important economic indicator, a more accurate account of the retail recovery requires adjusting sales by population growth as well as inflation— i.e., inflation adjusted sales on a per capita basis. The years 2005-2007 reflect the debt laden boom, as per capita sales hit $10,408 in 2007. The recession led to plummeting sales over the next four years, with per capita sales dropping to $7,892 in 2011. Since then, per capita sales have increased by eighteen percent to $9,280 Table 2 and Figure 2.

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