Auto sales roaring in Northern Nevada |

Auto sales roaring in Northern Nevada

Bill O’Driscoll

Automobile sales are roaring once again in Northern Nevada after sputtering through the Great Recession.

For the past five fiscal years dating to June 2012, taxable sales on all vehicles and vehicle parts have swelled an average of 10.6 percent a year in Washoe County.

In Carson City, where South Carson Street is home to numerous major auto dealerships, the average was even higher: 11.3 percent a year.

The figures reported by the state Department of Taxation reflect the region’s ongoing economic recovery that is manifested by replenished disposable income of consumers.

And when times are good, consumers will spend more on vehicles, said Mark Pingle, economist and economics professor at the University of Nevada, Reno.

“A car is a durable good,” he said. “When you hit tough times, you postpone purchases. But old cars wear out, and so now there’s a pent-up demand. My own truck has 285,000 miles on it, and I’m going to have to replace it at some point soon.”

That’s good news for auto dealers and auto parts stores, whose taxable sales are combined in the Department of Taxation’s statewide data.

For the greater Reno-Sparks area, auto sales are a crucial economic indicator, ranking second only to restaurants and bars as the single biggest generator of taxable sale in Washoe County.

“We have a smoking hot economy right now in Northern Nevada,” said Pingle, citing robust construction and job growth reflected in unemployment rates in the low- to mid-single digits.

“People don’t buy cars if they’re losing their jobs,” Pingle said. “When the construction industry went down, that pulled everything down. Now construction is booming, plus things are diversifying, with Tesla and all that has brought.”

Total taxable sales for Washoe in June, the latest month in the Department of Taxation report, rose by 5.2 percent compared with June 2016, continuing the strong recovery after the recession, which, at its depths, saw monthly year-over-year sales declines for more than three straight years.

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