Retail spending rose 7 percent in March and for the quarter, as businesses and consumers continued to spend at a higher rate than a year ago, the city-parish Finance Department reported Wednesday.
The mayor’s office said it was the biggest March ever, topping even post-Hurricane Katrina levels, and was fueled by the bowling tournament and a Tom Cruise movie being filmed here.
Total spending in East Baton Rouge Parish was $716.3 million in March, compared with $669.8 million that month last year.
For the first quarter, spending was $1.94 billion, compared to $1.81 billion.
The figures do not include vehicle sales tax collections.
“This is great news for the city of Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge Parish, but it’s no accident,” Mayor-President Kip Holden said in a news release. “The record March sales-tax collections are the result of a lot of hard work for a lot of individuals.”
Looking at the breakdowns for the first quarter:
- Retail trade, which makes up 51 percent of total spending, was up 6 percent.
- Manufacturing, which makes up 10 percent of the total, was up 11 percent.
- Services, which make up 11 percent of the total, rose 7 percent, while food services and drinking places, which make up 10 percent of the total, rose 10 percent.
- Vehicle sales, 8 percent of the total, continued their strong run, up 13 percent to $58.1 million for March and up 12 percent to $157.7 million for the quarter.
- The “other” category, which is 9 percent of the total, is up 16 percent.
Spending within the city limits was up 5 percent for the month and for the quarter. Outside the city limits it was up 8 percent for the month and 9 percent for the quarter.
The recent upswing in retail spending has been good news for the city-parish, which had to cut spending in 2009 and 2010 as collections fell 6 percent and 3 percent, respectively.
Total collections for the city-parish were up 7 percent to $15.5 million for March and up 7 percent to $42.0 million for the quarter.
The U.S. Bowling Congress tournament, which began Feb. 11 and continues through July 10, is expected to draw more than 100,000 people from across the country.
With most visitors staying in the area between three and four days, the event is projected to have a $100 million economic impact, the mayor’s office said.
Movie and television projects spent an estimated $208 million here in 2011. Baton Rouge has 28 projects lined up this year. The Tom Cruise film will continue filming through early June and is expected to pump $56 million directly into the local economy, the mayor’s office said.
“Our economic development strategies are truly paying off at the cash register for our local business community,” Holden said.