Extra Superfest day boosts EBR spending

The extra day added to the Bayou Country Superfest helped lift consumer and business spending in East Baton Rouge Parish by 5.8 percent in May compared with a year ago.

Sales tax collection figures released Friday by the city-parish Finance Department show businesses and consumers spent $706.2 million in May. That compares with $667.5 million in spending in May 2013.

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

Marsha Hanlon, director of the city-parish Finance Department, said May’s numbers were boosted by Bayou Country Superfest. Traditionally, the festival is held in Tiger Stadium the Saturday and Sunday over Memorial Day weekend. But this year, concerts were held on Friday night too, resulting in a record crowd of more than 135,000.

Hanlon said the impact of the extra day of the country music festival could be seen in increased sales tax collected at local hotels, restaurants and bars. Sales at restaurants and bars were up 14.7 percent from May 2013.

“Adding a Friday night did help,” said Katie Guasco, Visit Baton Rouge’s communications director. May economic activity was also boosted by the crew and contestants for the Miss USA pageant coming into town in advance of the June 8 event, and the filming of two high-profile movies around the city, “Pitch Perfect 2” and “The Fantastic Four.”

“This has been an excellent summer,” Guasco said.

Another area that did well was manufacturing, where spending was up 14.8 percent from May 2013.

Spending, excluding vehicles, within the Baton Rouge city limits was up 6.4 percent in May to $382 million. This includes activity at Cortana Mall and on College Drive.

Spending outside the city limits, which includes the Mall of Louisiana and big-box retailers on Siegen Lane, was up nearly 5.2 percent in May to $324.2 million. Baton Rouge recently annexed much of the Mall of Louisiana. Hanlon said that will be reflected in sales tax collections beginning June 15 although the annexation is being challenged in court.

Vehicle sales were up 4 percent from the year before, reaching $65.9 million for the month.

Overall tax collections for the city-parish, which include vehicle sales, were up nearly 5.7 percent in May to $15.4 million.

For the first five months of the year, spending in the parish, excluding vehicle sales, ran 2.5 percent ahead of 2013’s pace, to reach $3.3 billion.

Spending is up 4.8 percent in the Baton Rouge city limits, at $1.8 billion. The total is down 0.2 percent outside the city limits, at $1.5 billion.

Tax collections for the first five months of 2014, which includes vehicle sales, are up 2.4 percent, to reach $72.9 million.

Follow Timothy Boone on Twitter @TCB_TheAdvocate