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AUTOMOTIVE : One-Fourth of Each Dollar Spent at O.C. Stores Is for Vehicles, Upkeep

October 19, 1994|John O'Dell, Times staff writer

Despite thick, brown air and the fact that the phrase "automobile travel" is an oxymoron most weekdays, the motor vehicle still is king in Southern California.

Just how important our cars, pickups and sports utility vehicles are to us is spelled out in dollars and cents in the latest annual taxable sales report from the State Board of Equalization.

The short form: We spend more money on cars than on food, drink, clothes or anything else that gets taxed.

Almost 25 cents of every dollar spent in retail stores in Orange County last year was spent on motor vehicles.

That compares to 10 cents in Los Angeles County and 12 cents in Riverside County. But both San Diego County, where 26 cents of each retail store dollar is spent on vehicles and automotive-related purchases, and San Bernardino, at 31 cents on the dollar, outpace Orange County.

According to the state tax collection board's annual report for 1993, Orange County new-car dealers recorded $2.1 billion in taxable sales, and used-car dealers reported $221 million more in retail business. That's $2.3 billion spent in the county to buy cars, parts and equipment from the dealers.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday October 20, 1994 Orange County Edition Business Part D Page 2 Column 6 Financial Desk 1 inches; 32 words Type of Material: Correction
Auto spending--Expenditures for cars and car maintenance accounted for 26.6% of taxable spending in Los Angeles County retail stores in 1993 and for 28% in Riverside County. A story Wednesday erroneously reported lower figures.

In addition, Orange County residents--and passersby who needed gas or repairs--spent $1.3 billion on their cars at service stations and $258 million more in auto-parts stores.

That means a grand total of $3.9 billion was spent in the county last year on cars and trucks--more than was spent on any other single category of goods. The next highest total was $2.9 billion spent in general merchandise stores--chiefly department and drugstores.

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