Retail spending in EBR drops 5% in May

Spending in East Baton Rouge Parish fell 5 percent in May, led by a steep drop in the manufacturing sector.

Sales tax collection figures released by the city-parish Finance Department show businesses and consumers spent $667.5 million in May in what has been an up-and-down year. The figures do not include vehicle sales, which are generally examined separately when looking at spending as an economic indicator.

Retail trade, which makes up 51 percent of the total sales, was flat for the month but manufacturing, which makes up 9 percent of the total, fell 32 percent.

Finance Director Marsha Hanlon said the drop in sales tax receipts from the manufacturing sector came from a single taxpayer — a company whom she would not name — that made a major equipment purchase last year.

The category that includes bars and restaurants, about 10 percent of the total, rose 3 percent and the services sector, which is 11 percent of the total, fell 5 percent.

Vehicle sales continued their strong run, rising 15 percent to $63.3 million in May. Auto sales are up 14 percent for the year.

Also notable was a sharp drop in spending outside the city limits. Spending within rose 1 percent but fell 11 percent in the outer areas, easily the largest decline all year. Hanlon said the May decline in the industrial sector, which lies in the outer areas of the parish, was the culprit there, as well.

For the first five months of 2013, spending is down just under 2 percent to $3.25 billion.

Tax collections for the city-parish, which include vehicle sales, were down 3 percent in May to $14.6 million. For the year, the city-parish has collected $71.2 million, down 0.5 percent.