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Consumer and business spending in East Baton Rouge Parish continued to surge in May, coming in 22% higher than the year before.

Nearly $903 million was spent in the parish during May, according to figures released Wednesday by the city-parish Finance Department. 

Consumer and business spending in East Baton Rouge Parish continued to surge in May, coming in 22% higher than the year before.

Nearly $903 million was spent in the parish during May, according to figures released Wednesday by the city-parish Finance Department. That compares to $739.9 million spent in May 2020, when the state stay-at-home order was in effect for the first half of the month and people weren’t allowed to do such activities as eat in restaurants, exercise in fitness centers, shop at malls or get haircuts.

For a pre-pandemic comparison, nearly $827.3 million was spent across the parish in May 2019.

Vehicle sales in May posted an even bigger increase, going up 47.8% from $55.1 million to $81.5 million.

Spending in most categories was up compared to 2020. Retail and grocery sales, which account for more than 55% of all activity in the parish, was up by 21.8%; in restaurants and bars, 51.3%; and services, 25.6%. Manufacturing, a volatile category that can be influenced by the purchase of big-ticket equipment, was down 15% in May from the year before.

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Inside the city limits, spending was up 36.4% from May 2020 to come in at $551.9 million. That compares to $404.6 million in spending the year before and $475.1 million in spending during May 2019.

The increase was smaller for spending in the parish. There was $351.1 million spent in May, a 4.7% increase from May 2020, when $335.4 million was spent in the area. In May 2019, $352.2 million was spent in the parish.

Sales tax collections in May were nearly $18.1 million, compared to nearly $14.8 million in May 2020.

Through the first four months of the year, spending has topped $4.3 billion, a 15.7% increase over the $3.8 billion spent through May 2020. In the city limits, $2.5 billion has been spent, a 21.4% increase over the nearly $2.1 billion spent during the first five months of 2020. In the parish, spending was up 8.7% from $1.7 billion to $1.8 billion.


Email Timothy Boone at tboone@theadvocate.com.