Spending in East Baton Rouge Parish fell 1.5 percent in December, the first month all year that businesses and consumers failed to spend more than they did the year before.
The dip, however, could be the result of December having one fewer weekend than that month the year before, as holiday spending is heavily concentrated on weekends.
Figures released by the city-parish Finance Department show $761.9 million in spending for December — an important month because it indicates holiday shopping — compared with $773.9 million in December 2011. The figures do not include vehicle sales.
Retail trade itself, which makes up 60 percent of the total, was down 2.4 percent. The prevalence of holiday spending is evident in the size of the segment — on a typical month, retail trade is only 50 percent of the pie.
Finance Director Marsha Hanlon pointed out that November was particularly strong, and added together, November and December saw spending rise 2.5 percent. She also noted 2011 closed out strong in the final months.
“December 2011 was really, really good,” she said.
Other than the end-of-the-year letdown, 2012 was a solid year for consumer and business spending. Total spending was up 6 percent to $8 billion, compared to $7.56 billion in 2011.
Vehicle sales had a strong year in 2012, rising 12 percent to $635.6 million.
The outlying area of the parish had a stronger showing in 2012 than the city proper, though both posted gains. Inside the city limits, spending was up 3 percent to $4.21 billion; outside the city limits, it was up 9 percent to $3.79 billion.
Though it finished the year on a down note by dropping 14 percent in December, manufacturing enjoyed a 16 percent gain for the year. It represents 11 percent of total spending.
Retail trade, 51 percent of the total, rose 3 percent in 2012, while food services and drinking places, which are 10 percent of the total, rose 8 percent.
The services sector, which is 11 percent of the total, rose 9 percent in 2012.
Total collections for the city-parish, a figure that includes vehicle sales taxes, were up 6.3 percent in 2012. East Baton Rouge Parish government took in $172.8 million compared with $162.5 million in 2011.