Retail sales across the region hit a speed bump in September. And retailers hope it’s not a sign of things to come.
New state figures show taxes collected on September retail sales were down in more than half — 43 — the 83 towns in Northeast Mississippi. The previous month and in September last year, they were up in more than 60 percent of towns.
It marked only the second time in 15 months that more towns saw declines than increases. Some of the region’s largest retail centers, including Tupelo, Columbus, West Point, Amory and Kosciusko felt the slowdown. Starkville, New Albany, Pontotoc, Corinth, Louisville and Oxford all saw increases.
Analysts say three home MSU football games helped Starkville’s numbers. MSU played only two home games in September 2011.
Among area towns and the change from September 2011:
Amory, down 14%; Columbus, down 3.5%; Corinth, up 1.1%; Kosciusko, down 2.2%; Louisville, up 2.8%;New Albany, up 1.7%; Oxford, up 3.1%; Pontotoc, up 1.5%; Starkville, up 6.7%; Tupelo, up .8%; and West Point, up .1%.
Sales tax revenues make up between 40 and 50 percent of most cities’ annual operating budgets. September revenues are received this month, the second of cities’ budget year. Early declines in projected revenues could cause city leaders to cut back on spending to gauge whether revenue trends will turnaround.
For instance, Columbus projected an increase in sales tax revenues over what was collected in the 12 months between October 2011 and September 2012. Through the first two months, revenues are actually down about $24,000 from the first two months of the last fiscal year.