Retail sales in Burbank grew 5.6% between 1996 and 2001, according to
a statewide survey, but city officials said 2002 figures jumped to
8.2% following the opening of the Burbank Empire Center.
The study, released late last month by California Retail Survey,
analyzed and ranked 470 cities and 58 counties throughout California
based on actual sales results from each of the state’s 360,000
retailers. The survey measured everything from department store and
women’s apparel sales to sales of jewelry and automobiles.
The cities of Calabasas, Irwindale, Westlake and Rolling Hills
experienced the largest growth in retail sales, ranging from 23%
growth to 19.7% growth, respectively.
By comparison, Glendale experienced a 6.8% growth in retail sales
over the same period, the survey said.
Financial Services Director Derek Hanway said the Empire Center,
which opened in November 2001, has had a significant effect on the
city’s retail sales growth.
“The only sector that we lag in is auto sales,” Hanway said. “In
every other aspect, we meet or are above [expectations] in retail
But James Vaughn, the survey’s publisher, said sales of new and
used automobiles and parts were responsible for the highest growth
among Burbank survey indicators, at 11.4% per year on average.
Conversely, Vaughn said Burbank retail apparel stores fared the
worst over the five-year period with an average yearly loss of 11.8%.
Hanway said that during the first calendar quarter of 2003,
Burbank generated $163 per person in auto sales tax, where the county
average was $349 and the state was $402. In contrast, he added that
the total retail sales tax per person during the same quarter was
$4,889 for Burbank, $2,490 for the county and $2,804 statewide.
Jack Kyser, chief economist for the L.A. County Economic
Development Corp., said Burbank doesn’t have the space for auto
dealerships, which means the city loses out on revenues from new and
used car sales as well as businesses that provide maintenance.
“Every city aspires to have a lot of auto dealers,” Keyser said.
“And if it is in one place, it works better because people can shop
Vaughn says he is optimistic about the future of Burbank’s retail
“Burbank is doing well compared to the rest of the state,” he
said. “And remember, there are many cities that have declined.”