The cash registers have been ringing as city and county officials were singing the praises of a report Friday (Jan. 22) that showed increases in sales tax revenue for January.
Based on numbers from the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, the Jonesboro one-cent sales tax brought in $1.4 million, up 4.74% compared to the same time in 2014. The Craighead County one-cent sales tax brought in $1.54 million, up 4.92% from the same time in 2014.
Jonesboro Deputy Finance Director Mike Burroughs and Craighead County Treasurer Terry McNatt attributed the increase to several factors. Burroughs said early Christmas sales as well as Arkansas State University sporting events likely brought in folks to Jonesboro. The figures are also based on money collected in November 2015, Burroughs said, noting two major retailers (Burlington Coat Factory and Hays) opened during the month.
“It definitely made a difference,” Burroughs said of the openings.
Burlington Coat Factory opened in the former Kroger grocery store on Caraway Road, while clothing store Hays moved into the former Coca Cola bottling factory on Highland Drive.
“It is a big economic impact,” Burroughs said, noting most of the spending typically happens on weekends.
In addition to people in Jonesboro, Burroughs said people from Northeast Arkansas, Southeast Missouri and West Tennessee shop in Jonesboro.
McNatt said another factor is the drop in gas prices. The gas pumps in Jonesboro showed the $1.50 to $1.55 a gallon price range this week.
“These are good numbers. There are lots of factors. With fuel prices down, it means discretionary income is up,” McNatt said. “Oil is at $26 a barrel today (Friday), which means about $1.50 at the pump. Everybody is talking about it around here.”
The city and county have also seen an increase in sales tax revenue over the past couple of years. The one-cent county sales tax brought in $18.4 million in 2015, up from the $17.5 million collected in 2014. Also, the county has seen increases in 11 of the past 14 months, records showed. The city’s one-cent sales tax brought in $16.5 million in 2015, up from the $15.8 million that was brought in during 2014.
Burroughs and McNatt said the report in February should provide a key idea as to how big a holiday shopping season there was in Jonesboro last year.
“For February, we’re just keeping our fingers crossed and hoping for a good report,” McNatt said.