Consumer and business spending in Baton Rouge rebounded slightly in May, coming in 10.6% lower than what was spent the year before.
Spending in East Baton Rouge Parish was nearly $740 million in May, according to the latest figures released Tuesday by the city-parish Finance Department. That compares to $827.3 million in spending during May 2019. The figures include vehicle sales.
The drop was narrower than the 18.2% spending decrease reported in April, a month in which a stay-at-home order kept people from dining out and going to casinos. Gov. John Bel Edwards eased up on the stay-at-home order on May 15, which allowed customers to go back to eating in restaurants, gambling in casinos, exercising in fitness centers, shopping at malls and getting haircuts under capacity restrictions. Edwards further loosened the order in June, allowing more customers inside a business at a time and reopening bowling alleys, pool halls, tattoo parlors and bars. Because of an increase in coronavirus cases, he has since closed bars again.
During an Advocate economic summit Tuesday, Baton Rouge Area Chamber President and CEO Adam Knapp said more recent figures show spending at retail stores is pretty much back to where it was in Ascension and Livingston parishes, although in East Baton Rouge, it’s still 8.4% down from 2019.
The city-parish May figures showed vehicle sales down 17.5% to $55.1 million from $66.8 million a year ago.
Taxes collected at retailers and grocery stores, which account for nearly 56% of all spending in the parish, were down 0.9% in May. Spending at restaurants and bars was down by 26% in May from a year ago. Spending on services was down 31%. The only category to show improvement was manufacturing spending, which can be heavily impacted by spending on big-ticket equipment. Manufacturing spending increased by 0.8% in May.
Spending inside the Baton Rouge city limits was down by 14.9% in May from $475.1 million in 2019 to $404.6 million. Outside the city limits, spending dropped by 4.8% from $352.2 million to $335.4 million.
The city-parish collected $14.8 million in taxes during May, down from $16.5 million in 2019.
Through the first five months of the year, spending parishwide is down 5.7% to nearly $3.8 billion from nearly $4 billion through May 2019.