EBR spending up 6 percent in February

Consumer and business spending in East Baton Rouge Parish increased by 6.2 percent in February compared with a year ago, possibly as a result of pent-up demand from the severe winter storms that kept shoppers away from stores during the last few days of January.

Sales tax collection figures released by the city-parish Finance Department show businesses and consumers spent $636.4 million in February.

That compares with $599.1 million in spending in February 2013.

The figures do not include vehicle sales, which are generally examined separately when looking at spending as an economic indicator.

Sales were up in all categories, including food services and drinking establishments, which were up by 5.9 percent from the year before, and retailers, up by nearly 6.2 percent.

Baton Rouge was frozen by a severe storm the last week in January that iced over interstate highways and city streets and forced some businesses to close for a few days.

Local officials, including the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, encouraged people to patronize small businesses and go out to local restaurants to offset the impact of the storm.

Spending outside the city limits, which includes the Mall of Louisiana and big-box retailers on Siegen Lane, was up 6 percent in February to $290 million.

Spending, excluding vehicles, within the city limits was up nearly 6.4 percent in February to $346.3 million. This includes activity at Cortana Mall and on College Drive.

Vehicle sales were up 8.4 percent from the year before, topping $58 million for the month.

Tax collections for the city-parish, which include vehicle sales, were up 6.4 percent in February to nearly $13.9 million.

For the first two months of the year, spending in the parish, excluding vehicle sales, is running nearly 3 percent ahead of 2013’s pace, to reach nearly $1.24 billion.

Spending is up 5.6 percent in the city limits, at $671.5 million. The total is virtually unchanged outside the city limits, up .02 percent, at $566.9 million.