To kick off 2020 the four largest cities in Northwest Arkansas got a nice bump to sales tax revenue in the January report, up 8% to total $6.263 million. Bentonville, Fayetteville, Rogers and Springdale each posted revenue gains in January compared to the prior-year period.
Over the past decade, January revenue has grown 81% for the combined cities as the region’s population grew to 565,200 residents as of mid-December. The Northwest Arkansas Council reports 31.9 people were added to the economy each day in 2019. Since April 2010, the daily rate is 28.5 people added to the population. The region’s population growth was faster than 96% of the nation’s largest metro areas over the past 10 years.
January sales tax reflects sales and services rendered in November. Each city collects local sales taxes and this report reflects 1% of that tax which is also part of each city’s operational budget. The National Retail Federation (NRF) reported 4.1% retail sales growth for the holiday period which covered November and December – well above the 2.1% sales growth reported from the prior-year period. The retail trade group had forecast holiday sales growth between 3.8% and 4.2% with the final tally coming in at $730.2 billion.
“This is a consumer-driven economy, and by any measure, the consumer has put the economy in a solid position for continued growth,” said Matt Shay, president and CEO of NRF.
Rogers benefited from its growing retail sector this past holiday season with January revenue totaling $1.782 million, up 13.74% from a year ago. City officials set the 2020 sales tax budget at $19.9 million, up 8% from last year. The average monthly sales tax revenue needed to reach the 2020 budget is $1,658,333. The city should see a boost in revenue this spring when the Top Golf entertainment venue opens and later this spring when an expanded Walmart AMP reopens. The city has also added several new restaurants from casual dining Torchy’s Tacos to the soon-to-open Salt Grass Steakhouse.
Springdale had the second-highest revenue growth in January at $1.365 million, up 9.27% from a year ago. It was the highest January sales tax revenue in the city’s history.
Bentonville reported January sales tax revenue of $1.173 million, up 5.13% from the prior year. While Bentonville does not have as many retail shopping venues as the other three cities, the entertainment venues of Crystal Bridges and the Amazeum help to close the gap. The city also benefits from online sales tax and the NRF reports online sales rose 14% during the holiday season.
While general admission at Crystal Bridges has been underwritten by Walmart at no cost to individuals, special exhibits do bring in substantial revenue as does the restaurant and gift stores. Last year Crystal Bridges surpassed 700,000 patron visits, a record for the world-class museum that just celebrated its 8th anniversary. Bentonville will open The Momentary on Feb. 22 which is the extension of the performing arts to Crystal Bridges. The highly popular North Forest Lights experiential exhibit opened Oct. 26 and runs through Feb. 16 with 80,000 paying patrons attending thus far.
Fayetteville is the second largest retail center in the region and posted 4.07% revenue growth in January. The total revenue was $1.943 million, the best January in the city’s history. While traditional mall traffic is down, Fayetteville also benefits from growth in online sales. Fayetteville is also a holiday destination for Lights of the Ozarks which runs from Thanksgiving through New Year’s.