The data from the state Department of Revenue shows retail sales in January of $3.7 billion. That's nearly 5.4 percent higher than the same time last year -- and more than 16 percent above two years ago. Economist Dennis Hoffman of Arizona State University called that a nice solid month of performance. But Hoffman said there is reason to believe that this year-over-year growth may not continue.
"The headwind right now is $4 gas," said Hoffman. "And that is really going to be the proof in the pudding here."
And the more Arizonans pay to fill up their cars and trucks, the less they will have to spend on everything else. But even at that, Hoffman said one sector of the economy may still do well.
"People are probably still going to be buying cars because you probably want to get rid of that old fuel-inefficient junker and get something more fuel efficient," said Hoffman. "And there's plenty to buy."
And he said certain major purchases are also likely to remain unaffected.
"You know, if you need a new washing machine or refrigerator, or want to fix up the house, it's not typically gas prices that are going to deter you from doing that," he added. "But it can weigh at some level."