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January was a good month for Flagstaff contractors.

A spike in construction-related activity pushed monthly taxable sales into positive territory for the month of January, with total retail sales for the city of Flagstaff up by 2 percent from a year ago, according to information released by the city of Flagstaff.

However, Flagstaff still lags behind the rest of the state, which saw a statewide increase of 10 percent in January compared with a year ago.

One issue that made this year's figures look more positive was a massive snowstorm last January that temporarily brought all construction and most visitation in Flagstaff to a standstill.

Taxable, construction-related tax revenues for January 2011 were more than double the amount collected in 2010 and even slightly more than January 2009.

January is usually one of the slowest months for the industry.

Last year's weather also likely played a role in a 3 percent increase this January for the city's Bed, Board and Beverage tax.

Heather Ainardi, the director at the Flagstaff Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the latest round of information marks 12 continuous months of growth in BBB revenue.

She said the growth was largely fueled by increased bookings at local hotels, as the lodging industry saw single-digit or even double-digit increases every month since last February.

"This shows the local tourism industry continues to grow regardless of economic conditions," Ainardi said. "A 3 percent increase in January is very positive for Flagstaff."

The storm that dumped roughly 4 1/2 feet of snow in late January 2010 forced dozens of Flagstaff business to close for several days and multiple highway closures canceled plans for many tourists.

At one point during the blizzard last year, Mayor Sara Presler issued an emergency declaration, asking residents to avoiding driving unless absolutely necessary.

The construction industry also saw huge spikes in activity in the county last year, according to information released by the Arizona Department of Revenue.

Residential contracting had in some months an 80 percent increase in revenue when compared to the same month a year earlier.

County officials believe a majority of the work was tied to home repair related to major storms, including tornadoes in Bellemont, flooding in Timberline and roof damage from winter storms.

Joe Ferguson can be reached at 556-2253 or jferguson@azdailysun.com.

City of Flagstaff

January tax revenues

2011 vs. '10 2011 vs. '09

Construction: 117% 7%

General merchandise: 7% --6%

Drug/Liq stores: --1% --4%

Grocers: --6% --7%

Auto sales 29% 16%

B B B: 3% --2%

Clothing sales: 6% 4%

Home furnishings: 3% --10%

Bookstores: --18% --26%

Retail sales: 2% --7%

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