Consumer and business spending in East Baton Rouge Parish fell by 2.5 percent in May, the second consecutive month that economic activity was lower than the year before.
According to figures released by the city-parish Finance Department, businesses and consumers spent $688.7 million in May. That compares with $706.2 million in May 2014. The figures do not include vehicle sales, which are generally examined separately when looking at spending as an economic indicator.
Marsha Hanlon, director of the city-parish Finance Department, blamed May’s drop on a decrease in manufacturing spending. According to city-parish figures, sales tax collections from manufacturing activity were 28 percent lower than in May 2014. Hanlon said manufacturing sales tax collections are volatile because of big-ticket equipment purchases that don’t happen frequently.
Service spending also was down 6 percent from May 2014, while sales tax collections at food service and drinking establishments fell by 1.3 percent from May 2014. Last year’s numbers were boosted by a record crowd at Bayou Country Superfest as the concert event expanded to three days over Memorial Day weekend. While more than 135,000 people attended the 2014 festival, attendance at the Taylor Swift concert Friday night and the two-day festival this year was more than 125,000.
Spending, excluding vehicles, within the Baton Rouge city limits was up 3.4 percent in May to $394.9 million. This includes activity at Cortana Mall and for most of the Mall of Louisiana.
Spending outside the city limits, which includes big-box retailers on Siegen Lane, was down nearly 9.4 percent in May to $293.8 million.
Vehicle sales were up 2.9 percent from the year before, reaching $67.7 million for the month. Overall tax collections for the city-parish, which include vehicle sales, were down 2 percent in May to $15.1 million.
For the first five months of the year, spending in the parish, excluding vehicle sales, ran 2.6 percent ahead of 2014’s pace, to reach $3.4 billion. Spending is up 7.4 percent in the Baton Rouge city limits, at $1.95 billion. The total is down 3.2 percent outside the city limits, at $1.47 billion.
Tax collections for the first five months of 2014, which includes vehicle sales, are up 2.9 percent, to reach nearly $75 million.
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