Consumer and business spending in East Baton Rouge Parish increased by 5.9 percent in March compared with a year ago.

Sales tax collection figures released by the city-parish Finance Department on Wednesday show spending hit $754.3 million in March. That compares with $712.5 million in March 2014.

The figures do not include vehicle sales, which are generally examined separately when looking at spending as an economic indicator.

Sales were up in most categories, including manufacturing, which increased by 16 percent, and food services and drinking establishments, which were up by 4.6 percent from the year before. But spending on services dropped by 0.3 percent and vehicle sales were down 3.5 percent for the month. The value of March’s vehicle sales was $64.1 million

Spending, excluding vehicles, within the city limits was up 7.2 percent in March to nearly $423.8 million. This includes activity at Cortana Mall, most of the Mall of Louisiana and on College Drive.

Spending outside the city limits, which includes big-box retailers on Siegen Lane, was up 4.2 percent in March to $330.5 million. This was the first time since September 2014 that more money was spent outside of the Baton Rouge city limits than the year before.

Tax collections for the city-parish, which include vehicle sales, were up 5.1 percent in March to nearly $16.4 million.

For the first three months of the year, spending in the parish, excluding vehicle sales, is running nearly 5.6 percent ahead of 2014’s pace at $2.06 billion.

Spending is up nearly 9.6 percent in the city limits, at $1.17 billion. The total is up 0.7 percent outside the city limits, at nearly $891 million.

Follow Timothy Boone on Twitter, @TCB_TheAdvocate.