Local merchants posted record retail sales in August, rebounding significantly from the pandemic-stricken summer of 2020.
The Maine Bureau of Revenue Services reported that the region – which includes all of Knox County as well as the adjacent towns of Waldo County, Islesboro and Lincolnville – recorded $ 86.4 million in taxable retail sales in August.
This is the highest number of sales on record for the month of August, and 25% more than in August 2020. But, August 2021 fell just short of the record month set in July 2021, which had recorded $ 86.7 million in taxable sales. August is traditionally the month of each year with the most sales.
Part of the increase is due to higher prices, especially in building materials.
Sales of building materials in the region totaled $ 13.3 million in August, a 13% increase from the previous August. Sales of building materials have been strong over the past two years as more than average people move to the area, buy homes and renovate them.
Motor vehicle sales continued to increase in August, with sales totaling $ 13.7 million, a 12% increase from the previous year. Sales of automobiles, trucks, sport utility vehicles, motorcycles and powerboats have reached an all-time high in the past two years.
Sales of general merchandise products – like those at department stores – totaled $ 10.9 million, a 17% jump from a year ago.
Restaurants continued to rebound with $ 14.9 million in sales in August. This represents a 45 percent increase from a year ago.
Accommodation companies recorded sales of $ 13.9 million in August, a 56% increase from 2020.
Sales of taxable items at food stores totaled $ 9.8 million in August, an increase of 12 percent.
Sales at various store groups including gift shops, antique dealers, jewelers, drugstores and sporting goods stores totaled $ 10 million in August, up 30%.
Retail sales for each month of 2021 set records in the region.
Statewide, retail sales totaled $ 2.8 billion in August, up 18%.
County of Knox sees 14 more cases of COVID-19, CDC reports Thursday