Northwest Arkansas sales tax revenue flat in April report

by Kim Souza (ksouza@talkbusiness.net) 193 views 

After solid gains of 5.3% in March, April sales tax revenue totaled $5.222 million, up just 0.43% from a year ago, according to reports from Bentonville, Fayetteville, Rogers and Springdale.

Each city collects a local tax on goods and services. The tax includes 1% that goes toward the city’s budget which is reflected in the report. April sales tax revenue reflects goods and services sold and rendered in February.

Results among the cities were mixed in April as Rogers reported revenue gains of 2.85% from a year ago with proceeds totaling $1.423 million. Springdale reported a 2.33% gain in sales tax revenue this month with collections at $1.144 million.

Bentonville and Fayetteville lost ground with revenue coming in below the year-ago numbers. Bentonville’s sales tax revenue fell 0.56% at $1.048 million, while Fayetteville saw a 2.28% drop in its sales tax revenue from a year ago. Fayetteville reported $1.607 million in sales tax revenue for April, the lowest revenue for the month since 2015.

The outlook for consumers overall in 2019 is stable but discretionary spending will continue to be mixed and sporadic according to Wells Fargo senior economist Sarah House. She said rising fuel prices and minor inflationary pressures on food costs are not likely to stall household spending. But if the labor market continues to tighten, she expects there could be more pressure in the back half of the year pushing prices higher.

Through the first four months of 2019, cumulative sales tax reported by the cities totals $22.994 million, down from $25.661 million in the year-ago period. The bulk of that decline occurred in January when Bentonville reported a 70% drop attributed to rebates from a large employer.

Bentonville is typically the most volatile of the four cities from month to month with sales tax revenue swings. Through the first four months, Bentonville’s sales tax revenue totals $4.54 million, down 40% from the record period a year ago. City officials say the revenue is still within budget and they expect the large swings month-to-month. The city is also comparing against a record 37.9% sales tax revenue growth in 2018.

Springdale revenue through the first four months of this year totals $4.898 million, up 6.03% from the year-ago period. While retail expansion has slowed in Springdale city officials are still excited to see more interest in the downtown area and the western side of Interstate 49.

Fayetteville reported total revenue through April of $7.25 million, flat against the $7.247 million reported in the year-ago period. Like Springdale, retail development has slowed around Fayetteville after a robust building push on the western side of I-49.

Perhaps the busiest of area retail centers is Rogers, which continues to see development on the western side of Interstate 49 in the Pinnacle Hills area. Rogers reported sales tax revenue of $6.304 million through the first four months of 2019, up nearly 2% from the same period last year. Rogers said its 2019 sales tax revenue has been offset by more than $335,728 in rebates through March.

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