Consumers spent more in August which helped to push local sales tax collections higher, but economists on the national scene say keeping that pace could be a challenge through the end of the year.
Four of Northwest Arkansas’ largest cities reported healthy gains in sales tax collections. Revenue reported in October reflects August sales remitted to the state in September. All of the cities in this report collect a 2% sales tax which is divided evenly between the cities’ general operating fund and the repayment of bonds. This report tracks the city’s portion, or 1% of the tax collected.
After a couple of tepid months, Bentonville rebounded with a 16.99% gain in revenue reported this month. Finance director Denise Land says the city is on track to exceed $9 million in collections this year, more than $1.2 million over budget, if revenue stays on trend through December.
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is a major boom to the city’s revenue, attracting 900 visitors on a slow day and 4,000 on a busy day, according to Nikki Ciccotelli Stewart, director of education for the museum.
Rogers also had a big month posting a 10.4% rise in sales tax revenue from the year-ago period. City officials say revenue is outpacing last year – which was the best on record at $12 million.
October revenue reported by the five largest commercial districts in Northwest Arkansas totaled more than $4.560 million, rallying 9.68% from collections tallied a year ago. The October collections in both years included a tax-free weekend related to back-to-school shopping.
Siloam Springs was the only city in this report to post a decline in collections reported this month.
2012 TAX COLLECTIONS (October)
(Data represents a 1% sales tax, compared to prior year period.)
Fayetteville: $1,549,503, up 6.7%
Springdale: $918,073, up 4.25%
Bentonville: $754,148, up 16.99%
Rogers: $1,099,081, up 10.4%
Siloam Springs: $240,144, down 2.5%
Source: Respective cities.
Looking ahead to the next report, Rogers will have a full month of receipts from Cabela’s to weigh against the loss of the LPGA tournament that was moved from September to May.
Fayetteville will have Bikes Blues and Barbecue receipts and a couple of Razorback games that could push their collections higher. City officials say they are aiming to hit $17 million this year with steady growth each month from 2011.
Springdale also reports being ahead of budget. The city’s record of $12.48 million was hit in 2008, prior to the loss of Sam’s Club to Fayetteville. An ambitious goal for 2012 collections is $10 million.
On the national perspective, the economy's health and the presidential election are expected to take center stage among consumers this fall, which could mean a pause for shopper and retailers alike until after the Nov. 6 election, according to the Deloitte LLP holiday forecast.
"Economic headwinds nagging consumers include stubbornly high gasoline prices that continue to creep up and soft job markets," said Carl Steidtmann, Deloitte's chief economist.
He warns the pace seen in the summer could be difficult to sustain through year end. On the national scene, Deloitte's retail & distribution practice expects total holiday sales to climb about 4% to $920 billion between November and January. This forecast is below the growth rate of 5.9% last year.
Additionally, Deloitte forecasts a 15 to 17% increase in non-store sales. Nearly three-quarters of non-store sales result from the online channel with additional sales coming from catalogs and interactive TV.
CUMULATIVE TAX COLLECTIONS
2012: $7.665 million
2011: $6.933 million
2012: $14.480 million
2011: $13.614 million
2012: $10.888 million
2011: $10.038 million
2012: $2.415 million
2011: $2.402 million
2012: $8.499 million
2011: $8.277 million