Consumer and business spending in East Baton Rouge Parish was up 0.02 percent in March when compared with the year before.

Businesses and consumers spent nearly $754.5 million in March, according to figures released by the city-parish Finance Department. That compares with $754.3 million in March 2015. The figures do not include vehicle sales, which are generally examined separately when looking at spending as an economic indicator.

This was the 10th consecutive month that year-to-year spending increased in East Baton Rouge Parish. However, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said the inflation rate was up 0.9 percent from March 2015, and the Consumer Price Index, which measures what shoppers pay for items such as groceries, clothes, automobiles and utilities, was up 0.1 percent.

Spending by category was mixed. Spending on services was up 3.4 percent from March 2015, and retail sales increased by 2.4 percent. But spending at restaurants and bars fell by 2.6 percent. Manufacturing spending, a traditionally volatile category, was down 1.4 percent.

Vehicle sales were up 11 percent from the year before at $71.2 million for March.

Spending, excluding vehicles, within Baton Rouge city limits was up 0.6 percent in March to $426.1 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 0.7 percent in March to nearly $328.4 million.

Overall tax collections for the city-parish, which include vehicle sales, were up nearly 0.9 percent in March to $16.5 million.

Through the first three months of the year, overall sales, excluding vehicle sales, are up 0.4 percent, to nearly $2.07 billion.

Spending is down 0.5 percent in the Baton Rouge city limits at $1.16 billion. The total is up 1.7 percent outside the city limits to nearly $906 million. Tax collections for the first quarter of 2016, which includes vehicle sales, are up 0.7 percent to nearly $45.3 million.

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