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LJWorld.com weblogs Town Talk

Lawrence's retail sales up 2.1 percent for first quarter

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In case you had forgotten, today — April 15 — is tax day. But I hear that a high-ranking federal official will be in town on Friday, so perhaps you could save yourself some postage and just ask him to take it back to D.C. with him.

Let me know how that goes.

In the meantime, let’s talk taxes of a different type. The city of Lawrence now has received sales tax revenue through the first quarter of 2013, and the city’s retail sales totals are showing growth over and above what was a robust 2012.

Through the March report, the city has tallied $354.1 million in retail sales, up 2.1 percent from the same period a year ago. In case you are scoring along at home, these totals don’t represent sales actually made from January through March. The state’s reporting system has a lag, so these totals represent sales made in late 2012 up to about mid-February.

If you are looking for a reason to be negative ( and why wouldn’t you, it is tax day), the city’s March numbers are down about 1.2 percent from March 2012 numbers. But worrying about one month’s worth of sales tax numbers would be like me worrying about my wife buying $150 worth of leftover Easter candy. It's just something that happens in life.

If you are really looking for a reason to be negative (geez, how much do you owe the federal government?), you also could point to the fact that the city’s sales tax collections are growing more slowly than they did a year ago. But that may just be you being a grump because the city posted a blistering growth rate of 5.24 percent in 2012, which was the city’s best retail growth since 1998. Over the past five years, the average growth rate of retail sales in Lawrence has checked in at 1.8 percent. So, the first quarter was about average.

Compared to other places in the state, Lawrence’s performance in the first quarter was mixed. Statewide, retail sales grew by 3.7 percent. Here’s a look at some of the larger retail markets in the state:

• Overland Park: up 1.2 percent

• Olathe: up 4.9 percent

• Kansas City: up. 6.3 percent

• Topeka: up 1.3 percent

• Emporia: up 3.5 percent

• Salina: up 1.7 percent

• Hays: up 5.0 percent

• Manhattan: down 4.0 percent

(Look what happens when your football team goes to a bowl game. Everybody leaves town and spends their money somewhere else. I knew KU football knew what it was doing all along.)

A little closer to home, here’s a look at totals for some smaller communities around Lawrence. But take these figures with a grain of salt. The totals are often so small that it takes only a few dollars to produce a sizable change.

• Baldwin City: up 5.5 percent

• De Soto: down 5.9 percent

• Ottawa: up 7.7 percent

• Tonganoxie: up 8.1 percent

• Eudora: up 16 percent. I actually did the math on that one, and the increase represented an extra $1 million in retail spending during the first quarter. Eudora has been running an aggressive “buy local” campaign, with signs everywhere in town. So maybe that it is it, or perhaps my wife simply found a leftover Easter egg candy outlet in Eudora.

And finally, it wouldn’t be a sales tax article unless I got out my inflation calculator. (You should see the size of that thing.) Here’s a look at Lawrence’s retail sales totals since 2008 — just prior to the financial crisis. The numbers in parentheses are the total adjusted for inflation, in order to give you an idea of how much retail sales have grown above and beyond inflation.

• 2013: $354.1 million

• 2012: $346.6 million ($350.4 million)

• 2011: $333.2 million ($343.9 million)

• 2010: $309.1 million ($329.1 million)

• 2009: $327.9 million ($354.8 million)

• 2008: $334.7 million ($360.9 million)

So, we haven’t quite rebounded back to the levels seen prior to the financial crisis, but we’re very close. And we clearly have bounced backed from the lows of 2010.

If you want more analysis than that, you are going to have to do it on your own. I’ve got breakfast to eat — Cadbury eggs and chocolate bunnies, of course.

Comments

JohnnyRock 1 year, 5 months ago

Do these increases take into account higher gas prices? I know the national numbers were asterisked as the numbers were inflated by increased gas prices, so I'm guessing this would hold true locally. I actually don't know what gas prices are, as I just put my hand over my eyes and squeeze the pump.

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1 year, 5 months ago

Sales tax isn't charged on gasoline. An excise tax is charged on gasoline. So these numbers wouldn't be inflated by gasoline prices. At least, that is my understanding. Thanks, Chad.

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bearded_gnome 1 year, 5 months ago

• Eudora: up 16 percent. I actually did the math on that one, and the increase represented an extra $1 million in retail spending during the first quarter. Eudora has been running an aggressive “buy local” campaign, with signs everywhere in town. So maybe that it is it, or perhaps my wife simply found a leftover Easter egg candy outlet in Eudora.

---in reality, Penny Annie moved to Eudora, probably made a big difference?

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chootspa 1 year, 5 months ago

An aggressive buy local campaign might not be a bad idea in Lawrence.

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BigAl 1 year, 5 months ago

I couldn't agree more with this. "buying local" just doesn't mean much to a lot of folks in Lawrence. Seeing the out of town delivery trucks drives me nuts. People just don't seem to realize what it means to support your local businesses.

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jafs 1 year, 5 months ago

I believe in supporting local businesses.

But, I have had many experiences in Lawrence that have disappointed me with local businesses, even expensive ones.

Local businesses, if they want to attract customers, should offer high quality goods and services at reasonable prices.

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appleaday 1 year, 5 months ago

It's pretty close to the national rate of increase, so it's not just Brownback.

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tolawdjk 1 year, 5 months ago

You always see these numbers in the vacuum without correlating #'s of retail businesses. For example with Eudora's 16%, do they have the same # of retail busniess for that time period? Fewer? More? Is an individual shopkeep seeing an uptick in business or a dilution due to increased competition? Are the sales values due to opening of a much anticipated shopping location like when Legends opened or a first or second Walmart in a community or due to an active push from the local chamber to bring in small busniness?

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Richard Heckler 1 year, 5 months ago

A lot more alcohol must have been consumed during basketball.....

No we cannot afford another police station

No we cannot afford the $31 million field house

No we cannot afford the $80 -$100 million sewage treatment plant

No we cannot afford MORE and MORE millions of tax $$$$$ in corporate welfare to developers

No we cannot afford another city commission like the one we have..........

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