By Dennis Seid
Shoppers cut back in December in Tupelo, Northeast Mississippi’s retail hub, but some of the region’s cities like Corinth, New Albany and Oxford saw an increase in sales.
The Mississippi Department of Revenue’s sales tax diversion to Tupelo for December was about $1.86 million, a 5.7 percent decline from the $1.97 million collected a year earlier.
The department collects sales taxes from stores, restaurants, hotels and other businesses each month, and issues the diversions to cities a month later.
Last week’s January report thus reflected activity in December, said Department of Revenue spokeswoman Kathy Waterbury.
While Tupelo saw a drop in December, collections in Corinth were up 3.5 percent to almost $536,000; in New Albany, they were up 3.4 percent to nearly $275,000; and in Oxford, collections rose 3.5 percent, to more than $663,000.
Tax collections were down overall statewide, to $38.5 million compared to $39.2 million a year earlier.
However, for the fiscal year, statewide collections are running about 3 percent ahead of last year’s pace.
For Tupelo, December’s decline was the second since September; for the year, the total is essentially flat.
The drop in December reflected a nationwide trend for the holiday shopping season, in which consumers hit stores early in the season and tailed off toward the end.
Jeff Snyder, general manager at The Mall at Barnes Crossing in Tupelo, said a shorter Christmas shopping season also likely impacted December results. Last year, the span between Thanksgiving and Christmas – traditionally the busiest shopping period of the year – was one week less than 2012.
“We could tell that it wasn’t quite like it’s been in the past,” Snyder said. “We were up for December, but not by much.”
The back-to-school season often is an indicator for how holiday sales will go, and September’s diversion-to-cities report – reflecting August activity – fell from the previous year’s results.
Still, only half of the fiscal year has been counted, and it’s too early to suggest a trend just yet.
A snapshot of figures of cities in Northeast Mississippi showed many still ahead of the previous year’s pace.