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First-quarter taxable sales up 8.5% in California

Californians are finally spending their hard-earned money, according to the state’s bean counters, who estimated that taxable sales in the first three months this year rose 8.5% from the same period last year.

Shoppers spent an estimated $117.8 billion on items such as clothes, cars and especially gasoline in the first quarter, the state Board of Equalization said. That’s the biggest year-over-year increase since a 10.1% rise in the third quarter of 2005, the board said.

The board provided no other data for this year. But it supplied more details about last year’s first quarter, saying that consumer spending in California pulled out of its recessionary mode slightly in the first three months of 2010.

Taxable sales then rose $1.4 billion, or 1.3%, to $108.6 billion from the first quarter a year earlier, the first year-over-year uptick since before the Great Recession.

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“These numbers show that, after a long and painful recession, taxable sales in California finally turned the corner in early 2010 and it appears the growth continues,” said Jerome Horton, chairman of the state Board of Equalization.

Shoppers in the San Francisco Bay Area pushed taxable sales up 2.6% in last year’s first quarter, while sales in Southern California grew 0.9%. Long Beach showed exceptional growth with taxable sales rising 7.1% from the previous year’s quarter, while the city of Los Angeles matched the state’s increase of 1.3%.

Gasoline station sales had the largest gain of any major category, jumping 31% to $10.3 billion in last year’s first quarter, mainly because the cost of gas rose 40% during the first three months last year.

The higher cost more than made up for the 1% drop in the amount of gasoline sold.

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alana.semuels@latimes.com


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