Consumer spending throughout the spring helped sales tax revenue rebound in June among the four largest cities in Northwest Arkansas. Bentonville, Fayetteville, Rogers and Springdale cumulatively reported sales tax revenue of $6.4 million in June, up 11.48% from a year ago.
The bulk of that increase came from Bentonville’s $1.405 million in June revenue, up 39.43% from the same month last year. Rogers also had solid gains with revenue of $1.74 million, up 9.26% and Fayetteville saw a 7.02% gain with revenue totaling $1.875 million in June. Springdale was the only city to see lower revenue, down 1.11% from a year ago at $1.34 million for June.
Each city collects local sales tax on top of the state tax. This report reflects 1% of that local tax collected which goes into the cities’ operating budgets. June revenue reflects consumer spending on goods and services in April, creating a two-month lag in the data.
City officials said they have come to anticipate the ebb and flow of sales tax revenue and budget conservatively for overall growth. Through the first six months of 2019 cumulative sales tax revenue reported by the four cities totals $25.273 million, down 6.03% from a year ago.
The bulk of that decline has come from Bentonville. Through June, Bentonville’s sales tax revenue totals $6.939 million, down 23.9% from a year ago. Revenue is running $2.96 million behind a year ago. City officials have said 2018 was a record year and makes for tough comparisons on what looks to be a more modest year for growth.
Rogers reports total sales tax revenue through June of $9.791 million, up 3.74% from the same period last year. In June, Rogers’ revenue was offset by a rebate of $102,746. Rogers is over halfway to its annual budget of $18.4 million with still six months to go in 2019 and in a solid fiscal position, according to Rogers Mayor Greg Hines.
Fayetteville is also seeing its tax revenue nearly flat to a year ago at the half-way mark of 2019. The city’s total revenue through June is $10.993 million, compared with $10.945 million in the year-ago period. Fayetteville looks for only modest growth this year below the 4.58% overall growth the city reported in 2018.
Springdale is seeing modest growth in sales tax revenue through June at $7.55 million, up 4.2% from a year ago. Through the six month period, Springdale has only reported one month of lower revenue compared to the prior year. This is second only to Rogers who has seen positive growth each month of this year.
Overall consumer sentiment came in 98.2 for June’s final reading, according to the University of Michigan Index. Sentiment improved from an earlier reading of 97.9 to start the month. While the sentiment is high, it’s still shy of the 15-year high of 102.4 reported in May.
Economists say with low fuel prices and very modest overall inflation, consumers are in solid shape this summer, which bodes well for spending. Consumers are taking vacations this summer and purchasing large ticket items, but are not spending more in restaurants. They are instead eating more meals at home or purchasing take out.
The National Restaurant Association reports traffic has been negative since April, despite a slight uptick in same-store sales. The higher sales relate to menu prices that are up 3.1%.