Despite strong sales in December, consumer and business spending was down slightly in East Baton Rouge Parish in 2020.
Spending topped $9.7 billion in 2020, down 0.3% from the nearly $9.8 billion that was spent in 2019, according to figures from the city-parish Finance Department. The business shutdowns in the spring, which were done to control the spread of the coronavirus pandemic caused the drop. Spending was down by 18.2% in April and 10.6% in May.
Even with the shutdowns, vehicle sales were higher than in 2019. More than $812 million was spent on automobiles in 2020, up 8.3% from the $750 million spent in 2019.
Sales at retailers, including grocery stores, were 2.4% higher in 2020 than in the year before. But sales in other categories were down for the year. Spending on services fell by 6.2%. Sales at restaurants and drinking establishments, a sector that was hard hit by reduced seating capacities and extended bar closures, were down by nearly 5.6%. Manufacturing spending, which can be affected by purchases of big-ticket equipment, was down 5.8% from 2019.
December sales were 7.1% higher than they were in 2019. More than $950 million was spent in the parish, compared to $887.6 million in December 2019.
Spending increased in the unincorporated areas of East Baton Rouge during 2020, rising by nearly 0.7%. There was nearly $4.4 billion spent outside the Baton Rouge city limits in 2020, compared to $4.3 billion in 2019.
In the Baton Rouge city limits, sales were down almost 1.2% for the year, coming in just under $5.4 billion. That compares to the slightly over $5.4 billion that was spent in 2019.
Combined sales and vehicle tax collections were $194.7 million in 2020, down from $195.4 million in 2019.