Summer biz up, fine dining receipts down

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As expected, sales at local restaurants fell sharply last summer, when tourists, wanting to avoid the traffic-tie ups near the Las Flores landslide, steered clear of the city. But local consumers, flush with cash in a strong economy, boosted sales at other Malibu businesses, modestly pushing up the city’s sales tax receipts over the previous summer.

Strong sales of building materials and landscaping supplies, presumably by local residents, boosted overall sales in the third quarter 2.8 percent, city officials reported last week. Tax receipts for Los Angeles County were up 4.2 percent.

Finance Director Bill Thomas said the city’s modest increase for the July-September period is a reflection of the good economy in general. “People are spending money,” he said. “But it would have been better if PCH had not been closed.”

Fast food and casual dining restaurants actually experienced an increase in business, but sales at upscale restaurants, the main generators of tax receipts for the city, fell 9.4 percent.

Sales were also off at gift and novelty shops, a popular destination for visitors. And a drop in fuel prices led to lower tax receipts from service stations.