Retail sales last month were $4.05 billion. On paper, that's $100 million less than the same month a year earlier. But the Department of Revenue reports that the June 2011 figures were skewed to the tune of about $280 million because of how certain sales were classified. When that figure is backed out, the year-over-year growth is about 4.5 percent. Economist Dennis Hoffman of Arizona State University said that's not bad.
"It's certainly not blockbuster growth," Hoffman said. "It's not growth that would signal that happy days are here again. It's certainly not there. But it's a positive."
One big positive in the report is a 20 percent growth in vehicle sales from the same time last year. But Hoffman noted that the sales figures of about $590 million are still far below what they were prior to 2007 when Arizona was a magnet for migration from elsewhere.
"Folks would move here and they'd buy a house and they'd buy consumer durables and, you know, would tend to buy a car as well," Hoffman added. "They got a job. They just did all of these expenditures. And as every year went by, we just did rise, wash, repeat."
Hoffman said it remains to be seen whether the growth patterns of the last decade come back.