Sales tax revenues flat again

DTL Staff
Staff Writer

North Mississippi's retailers had a mixed month in July.

According to new state figures, sales tax revenues collected on July retail cities were down in 48 of 94 cities across the region when compared to the same month last year.

The big gainers included Tupelo, Corinth, Amory, New Albany and Pontotoc and Booneville, but many of the other large retail centers, including Starkville, Columbus and West Point were below last year.

Statewide, sales tax revenues were up 3 percent year-to-year but in North Mississippi, the number was closer to 1.5 percent, mainly pushed by big increases in Tupelo and Corinth which helped overcome declines in some others, including Oxford, which seldom has seen lower year-or-year numbers during the last three years.

Because of the way taxes are collected and processed, the totals run two months behind.

For instance, taxes are collected by retailers in July, sent to the state in August and the state sends 18.5 percent of taxes collected in a city back to the city in September.

Starkville's revenues were down 2.9 percent from $557,802 last year to $541,766 this year. Columbus' were down 4.1 percent from $806,384 last year to $773,498.

West Point's dropped 5.2 percent from $171,677 to $162,817. The city's revenues actually are higher than that but the state deducts a loan repayment and an overpayment from the total each month.

That ends next year.
This month's totals broke a string of three straight increases for the city, the first time that had happened in more than two years.

Starkville and Columbus have struggled for more than two years to keep up with previous years and the new numbers suggest that trend may continue.

The revenues received this month mark the last ones before new budget years start Oct. 1.
Many analysts have said larger retail centers have been losing ground to Internet shopping, especially since clothing and similar items are readily bought and shipped online.

A Supreme Court ruling this summer allowing states to fully tax those sales could swing the pendulum back toward traditional brick and mortar stores -- or at lest stabilize the drain -- as consumers shift some purchasing back to local merchants.
Experts have said that's one of the reasons large retailers are putting increased emphasis on online ordering for pick up at a local store, a system that bridges the gap, they say.