Retail spending drops 4% in EBR

Retail spending in East Baton Rouge Parish fell more than 4 percent in February from year-ago figures that were inflated by the start of a major bowling tournament, city-parish Finance Department numbers show.

Not including vehicle sales, businesses and consumers spent $599.2 million in February, compared with $626.8 million in February 2012.

The decline was led by sectors driven by personal consumption, which city-parish Finance Director Marsha Hanlon said was fattened in February 2012 by the bowling tournament that goosed spending through July.

“The bowling tournament had started in February and, looking at the restaurant numbers, that definitely appeared to have affected that category,” Hanlon said.

Indeed, retail trade, which makes up just over half of all spending, was down 4 percent in February, while the “food services and drinking places” category, which is 10 percent of the total, was down 3 percent.

Total spending in February 2012 was up 8 percent over that month in 2011.

Following a flat January, February’s drop means year-to-date spending is down 2 percent to $1.20 billion.

Looking at some of the other categories during February:

Vehicle sales, which are 8 percent of the total, rose 17 percent.

Manufacturing is 10 percent of the total and fell 2 percent, while services, at 11 percent of the total, rose 2 percent.

Also helping drag down the numbers was the “other” category, which, while only 9 percent of the total, fell 17 percent. Hanlon said this category was lead by declines in the construction sector.

Spending inside the city limits was down 7 percent, while spending outside was down 2 percent.

Total collections by the city-parish, a figure that does include vehicle sales, were down 3 percent in February to $13.1 million. For the year, collections are down just under 1 percent at $26.4 million.