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by Bobbie J. Clark
ShreveportTimes.com

Melissa Green doesn’t shop as much as she did in the past.

The Shreveport native is not unlike many in the area who have tightened their belts in these lean economic times.

However, just because she has limited her shopping trips doesn’t mean she has quit spending money. She’s just spending smarter and more efficiently.

Sales tax revenue for Caddo and Bossier parishes indicate the retail industry is making steady gains over last year despite high gas and food prices.

While the gains are more modest than prior years, they still reflect strength in the area economy, according to local economic experts.

Bossier Parish sales tax revenue are up slightly more than $87,000 over the first six months of this year compared to same period in 2007, while Caddo has gained nearly $2 million over the same period.

Many people have changed their spending habits, but not to the extent that the area’s retail industry is suffering, said Kurt Foreman, president of the Northwest Louisiana Economic Development Foundation. The diverse economy of northwest Louisiana has sheltered the area from downturns in certain sectors, like housing, he said.

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