Consumer and business spending in East Baton Rouge Parish increased by 5.7 percent in February as sales gains resulting from the August flood cooled off.
More than $769.6 million was spent in the parish in February, according to figures released Friday by the city-parish Finance Department. That compares with the $726.1 million spent during February 2016. The figures include vehicle sales.
The February numbers snapped a five-month streak of double-digit percentage increases in spending. Economists projected there would be a boost in local retail sales as tens of thousands of homeowners replaced vehicles, furniture, appliances and furnishings that were damaged in the flood and bought materials to rebuild their homes.
Baton Rouge-area home sales, which posted double-digit increases for four months, also cooled off in February.
Vehicle sales went up 9.8 percent in February to reach $65.3 million.
Spending was up in most categories for February, despite the 2016 figures being inflated because it was a leap year. Retail trade and food stores saw a 10.4 percent increase in a category that covers more than half of all sales tax collections. Spending on services was up 12.5 percent, while restaurants and bars had a 0.8 percent increase. Manufacturing, a traditionally volatile category prone to swings caused by major equipment purchases, was down 5 percent.
Inside the Baton Rouge city limits, spending was up 8.7 percent in February to $438.0 million. This includes activity at most of the Mall of Louisiana. Sales activity outside the Baton Rouge city limits was up 2.7 percent for the month to $331.6 million. This includes big-box retailers on Siegen Lane.
Overall sales tax collections for the city parish were nearly $15.4 million for February, compared with $14.5 million for February 2016.
For the first two months of the year, combined spending parishwide has reached nearly $1.6 billion, a 10.8 percent increase over the same period in 2016. Spending inside the Baton Rouge city limits is up nearly 13.8 percent to $905.5 million, while spending in other parts of the parish rose nearly 7.2 percent to $687.4 million.