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RETAIL : Shoppers Are Still Dropping Plenty of Their Dollars Here

Compiled by Mary Ann Galante, Times staff writer

Consumers spent $146.9 million in Orange County in August, continuing the trend for healthy spending on general merchandise for the 10th consecutive month, an industry trade group reported this week.

Data released by the International Council of Shopping Centers shows that retail sales in the Anaheim-Santa Ana area in August were 4.6% over those for August of last year.

The trade group measures sales at department stores, junior department stores, mass merchants such as K mart and national chains. Sales for gas stations and restaurants are not included.

The sales figures were released as part of the monthly tabulation by the trade group of general merchandise retail sales in the 125 largest U.S. metropolitan areas, based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau taken from 6,000 stores with 25 or more employees.

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General merchandise retail sales in Orange County have shown growth for every month except one since September, 1988, said Don Pendley, a spokesman for the council of shopping centers. October, 1988, was the exception, when sales dropped 1% to $140.1 million.

However, real estate economist Alfred Gobar of Alfred Gobar & Associates in Brea said the August numbers for Orange County are not dramatic. Gobar noted that during the past year, both the population and inflation have been increasing. “The inflation rate has been about 2 percentage points, so I’d be looking for a 6.5% increase” before calling a sales increase robust, he said.

In terms of its rate of growth, Orange County was ranked 60th among the top 125 retail sales markets in the country for the first six months of the year.


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