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Retail sales in city starting to slip, latest report finds

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If you haven't gotten your annual roller coaster ride in yet, don't worry. You can always spend a little time with the city of Lawrence's retail sales numbers. They've been up and down and up and down.

The city has received its latest sales tax check, representing sales made roughly from mid-June to mid-July, and the trend continues. Sales for the month were down 2.1 percent compared to the same period a year ago. The city now has received eight of its 12 sales tax checks for 2013. Four of them have been up from the same period a year ago, and four of them have been down.

So far the net result has been OK. Total year-to-date sales in the city are up 1.5 percent from the same period a year ago. But that number is beginning to look a little weaker all the time. That's because the city's roller coaster has been on a more downward path than upward. During the first four months of the year, retail sales were growing at a 3 percent clip. In the last four months, sales totals have been stagnant from a year ago.

When you factor inflation into the equation, Lawrence's sales totals aren't quite keeping up. Here's a look at taxable sales made in the city thus far in 2013 compared to the same period in past years. The numbers in parentheses are the numbers adjusted for inflation. You'll notice that 2012's sales adjusted for inflation are slightly higher than 2013's sales. So, that's a sign that retailers may be having a bit of a ho-hum season thus far. But the numbers also show sales are much better than they were during the recession. On the flip side, sales still have quite a ways to go to reach pre-recession levels.

2013 sales: $922.3 million

2012 sales: $908.7 million ($924.5)

2011 sales: $844.3 million ($876.7)

2010 sales: $814.6 million ($872.6)

2009 sales: $831.0 million ($904.8)

2008 sales: $861.4 million ($934.5)

Town Talk will be off on Monday for the Labor Day holiday. Enjoy your three-day weekend. Heck, ride a roller coaster. My wife has been urging us to cross that activity off the summer list. I've resisted. I can't figure out why my seat is the only one without seat belts.

Comments

nominalize 7 months, 2 weeks ago

For those talking about the killer sales taxes... Lawrence's really isn't that high compared to its neighbors.

Lawrence: 8.75%, only 1.55% of which comes from the city. Topeka: 8.8%. Kansas City KS: 9.7% to 10.75%. Overland Park: 8.5% (Oak Park Mall is 9.0% with its special district). Lenexa: 8.75%. Leavenworth: 8.15%.

If you spent $500 in each place, the sales tax would be:

Lawrence: $43.75. Topeka: $44.00. K City: $48.50 (at the lower rate, $53.75 at the higher). O Park: $42.50 (Oak Park Mall: $45.00). Lenexa: $43.75. L'worth: $40.75.

Two conclusions:
1) Good luck comparison shopping on that basis! Any tax savings would be more than wiped out by added fuel and time spent. 2) People might shop out of Lawrence for a number of reasons, but sales tax is not one of them. Let's lay the tax bogeyman to rest.

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imastinker 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Those of you that the sales tax rates don't matter

. Somebody might not coming and leaving Lawrence driving to Kansas City and buy a sweater, but there's a lot of other people that live in the surrounding areas that can drive to Topeka, Kansas City, Leavenworth, or Ottawa.

I am building a home 10 miles outside Lawrence right now, and you can bet I know what the sales tax rates are at the different stores I shop at.

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kujeeper 7 months, 2 weeks ago

People need to quit buying their cars out of town to save a hundred bucks, that's big time sales tax leaving town.....

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Kyle Chandler 7 months, 2 weeks ago

This economy can totally support a MENARDS!

MENARDS is going to save this city!!!

Just you wait!

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IndusRiver 7 months, 2 weeks ago

The city of Manhattan has a sales tax rate set at 8.5%. It's got Fort O Riley bucks to pick off at the same time.

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oneeye_wilbur 7 months, 2 weeks ago

It does not take a genius. Higher electric bills, less to spend. When the city starts charging the recycle fee, I have almost $36 a year lessto spend on taxable items. the tax will increase for August because the students are back, but then level off.

Gas for the car has gone up.idont buymy takeout pizza, instead getoneonsaleatthe. Storefor$3.50

It is a no brainier!

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Scott Morgan 7 months, 2 weeks ago

I like Lawrence and have zero problem with buying locally. Also am a fisherperson, and shooter. In the last 4 months have dropped 1000s of moolahs in Topeka and JO-CO on anything from shoes to televisions, and who knows how much on fishing alone.

Oh, New Balance 600 Series tennis shoes 39.99 Bass Pro. El wifo picked up a couple of pairs of knock-around shoes with significant savings as well. Way I look at it, we paid for fuel, and even lunch. The New Balance normally 70 buckaroos, and can look guns and boats while there too.

Where can I do this in Lawrence?

This city has to get a grip and invite some big name stores and restaurants in here pronto.

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Steven Gaudreau 7 months, 2 weeks ago

KU student population down 5 years in a row = fewer consumers. Meanwhile, KSU, MU, WSU and Washburn all have increased. Lawrence lives and dies by KU enrollment.

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Richard Heckler 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Brownback laid off tons of state workers which I'm sure plenty lived in Lawrence.... yet some cheered that move. Why? How does that protect the local economies?

Putting people out of work is always hard on the economy. Aka dumb economics.

UMKC is offering in state tuition to Johnson and Douglas county residents. JCCC is a better bang for the buck.

Big anchors don't want to be here. The retail dollars are not in Lawrence. Lawrence reckless planning is living a illusion. There are a few big names in downsized locations.

How in the world did any local mover and shaker come to the conclusion that KCMO metro and Topeka shoppers want to drive to Lawrence to shop? The Jayhawks won a NCAA basketball champion. That is not a solid fiscal foundation on which to base tax dollar spending.

Lawrence,Kansas is home to reckless tax dollar spending, inflation and low wages.

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Insidestraight 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Sales tax rates here are an absolute killer.

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KU_cynic 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Flat population growth, relatively flat salary growth, no new major employers, utility bills up, city service fees up, real estate taxes up . . . What else to expect unless people are going to load up on unsustainable credit-fueled consumption?

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Karl_Hungus 7 months, 2 weeks ago

This is all Obama's fault..... why that sneaky non-American is only talking about Syria to keep us from talking about Lawrence's sales numbers...

FYI, the only reason "he" "wants" health care for "everyone" is so "they" live "longer" to pay "more" taxes!!!! This "last" bit was for you, Barry Pendders!

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Beth Ennis 7 months, 2 weeks ago

I know that Lawrence has a lot of federal employees living here. I wonder if this is a reflection of the furloughs. I know my husband and I have spent less money. I also know that Leavenworth took a big hit, of course, the fort is right there. But I know of 3 van pools that come in to Lawrence and a lot of us drive in our own carpools. There are also a lot of federal employees working in KC area that live in Lawrence.

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Terry Lee 7 months, 2 weeks ago

We are each of us responsible for the bad quotes we choose to ram down people's throats post after post...

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tomatogrower 7 months, 2 weeks ago

You also need to remember the students were mostly gone during these months. Fewer students are able to afford summer school, or they take a class online, so they aren't here shopping. Of course, tuition will just continue to rise, and we'll have fewer students here anyway, so might as well get used to it. Brownback and cronies' experiment will have a trickle down affect, but it won't be the money that's moving down.

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nick_s 7 months, 2 weeks ago

What? I thought Mike Dever said things are looking up for 2014? The city budget was set accordingly, now all of a sudden the economic swami's prediction isn't coming to fruition? Amazing. I guess on Jan 1 2014 is when we'll start seeing the upswing.

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Terry Lee 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Thank god for the Chamber. Otherwise there would be no sales at all. Pffffftttttt!!

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theoljhawk 7 months, 2 weeks ago

It seems that this is the price you pay when you want to keep the downtown area "quaint." Lawrence has kept out the larger stores that would anchor a mall to maintain the downtown area (the place where a lot of the city commission personnel own businesses). It is a short drive to KC to have a wider selection and cheaper prices! Nobody to blame but yourselves!

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smileydog 7 months, 2 weeks ago

It sounds like we need yet another sales tax increase so things will look rosy for the short term since they never take into account the long term ramifications, thus the dip.

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