As the region braced through stay-at-home orders, spending in East Baton Rouge Parish slumped more than 7% in March and nearly 20% in April, according to figures released yesterday.
After seeing sales tax collections grow in the first two months this year, the city-parish collected nearly $16 million in March and nearly $13 million in April in sales tax collections, significantly less than was collected during those months last year.
Sales tax collections for the city-parish on things besides vehicles were down 8% and 17% for March and April, respectively. Vehicle sales were initially up in March over last year, but slumped by 30% in April as the region hunkered down and consumers put the brakes on transportation spending.
The figures for March were released about a month later than usual because of filing extensions that were issued at the beginning of the pandemic by Mayor Sharon Weston Broome.
Updates to the February figures, also due to filing deadlines, show that consumer spending picked up in the month prior to the region’s first coronavirus case. Sales tax collections were up nearly 3% overall in February.
Despite the grim numbers for spring spending, the Baton Rouge Area Chamber last week reported in its weekly indicator report that consumer spending was rebounding for Ascension, Livingston and East Baton Rouge parishes. As of June 3, consumer spending had nearly reached pre-pandemic levels in Ascension and Livingston parishes, and was only down some 12% in East Baton Rouge Parish.