CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) _ Nevada merchants sold $2.9 billion in goods during February for an 18.9 percent slump compared with the same month a year ago, according to a state report Thursday.
The state Taxation Department report shows that government tax collections based on the sales were down 18.2 percent. The taxes totaled $220.4 million, including $60.2 million for the state and the balance for schools and local governments.
Taxable sales were down in 15 of Nevada's 17 counties, including the two biggest population centers of Clark County, which encompasses Las Vegas, and Washoe County, which includes Reno.
In Clark County, sales dropped 19.6 percent to $2.2 billion. Washoe County sales fell 18.4 percent to $388.6 million.
Sales by merchants now are down 9.4 percent so far this fiscal year. Taxes based on those sales are down 9.3 percent for the same period.
Gov. Jim Gibbons stated the report shows the grim numbers are the latest development in a two-year trend that ``illustrates the ongoing weakness of the state and national economy.''
The Taxation Department report shows that restaurant and bar sales _ viewed as good indicators of Nevada's tourism industry _ dropped 9.9 percent in February, to $482.8 million compared with $535.8 million a year earlier.
General merchandise sales totaled $290.5 million, down 9 percent; clothing store sales totaled $194.3 million, down 13 percent; and durable goods wholesaling added up to $205.3 million, down 24.8 percent.
Vehicle and auto part sales statewide were $228.3 million, down 43.1 percent; and building material sales dropped 25.1 percent to $114.6 million.
The sales report follows a recent state Gaming Control Board report showing that casinos won $830.9 million from gamblers during February, for a decline of 18.1 percent. Taxes on sales and casinos are the main revenue sources for the state.