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Lindley Estes is a business writer for The Free Lance-Star and This blog is on Fredericksburg-area business. Send an e-mail to Lindley Estes.

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Area logs best quarter for taxable sales since 2006

Fredericksburg-area shoppers loosened their purse strings during the recent holiday season.

The fourth quarter of 2011 was the best for taxable sales locally since the third quarter of 2006. The region — Fredericksburg and Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania and Stafford counties — recorded about $883 million in taxable sales for the three months ending Dec. 31, according to Virginia Department of Taxation data released this week. That was up 5.5 percent from the fourth quarter of 2010, besting the statewide increase of 4.1 percent.

The new Walmart in the Dahlgren area drove up King George County’s taxable sales by about 40 percent in the fourth quarter. Sales in the city were flat, and the other three localities recorded small gains.

For all of 2011, taxable sales in the region rose about 3 percent from 2010 — about the same as statewide gains. King George was up about 18 percent, the city rose 0.3 percent, and the other three localities logged gains between 2 percent and 4 percent. It was the best year locally since 2007.

Spotsylvania accounted for about 41 percent of the region’s $3.4 billion in taxable sales in 2011. Stafford comprised about 28 percent, followed by Fredericksburg (24 percent), King George (4 percent) and Caroline (3 percent).

Taxable sales are a good indicator of economic activity, as they include figures from a wide variety of manufacturing, retail and service businesses. Certain data are excluded from the report, including motor vehicles, trailers, semi-trailers, mobile homes, travel trailers, motor vehicle fuels and fuels for domestic consumption. Local governments derive a significant part of their budgets from the sales tax.

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