Third Quarter 2020 Taxable Sales

Third Quarter 2020 Taxable Sales

The economic fallout from the pandemic has been very tough. One area that it has been reflected is in taxable sales. But it hasn’t been equal across the region. In the second quarter we saw ZIPs dependent on visitors and bars and restaurants losing big while in others like north St. Louis saw gains- wealth coming home.

I’ve long said reliance on sales taxes, the favorite of politicians and voters lately, is a risky way to fund local government rendering them more vulnerable to shocks. It’s simple- when times get tough people dial back spending by delaying/foregoing purchases and buying cheaper substitutes. We saw how much taxable sales plummeted during the Great Recession. Some municipalities turned to tickets and fines to fill the gap which blew up spectacularly. It appears we’ve learned nothing in the intervening decade with numerous sales tax increases put on ballots and passing and more TIFs for retail designed to lure non-resident shoppers. Source data are from the Missouri Department of Revenue.

Nextstl – Second Quarter 2020 Taxable Sales Down Dramatically In Some ZIP Codes

Nextstl – Regional Taxable Sales

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Q3 was much better than Q2 as you would expect, but again we see St. Louis City and County hit hardest.

Again the central corridor was hit hardest. North and south did better. The eleven ZIP codes with the biggest drops in he third quarter:

63103-43%Downtown West and Midtown
63134-31%Berkeley and Woodson Terrace
63146-28%Unincorporated Area between Maryland Heights and Creve Ceuor
63120-27%Walnut Park East and Mark Twain Industrial
63117-24%Richmond Heights
63108-24%Central West End

Q1 2020-19

Q2 2020-19

Q3 2020-19
CWE BUSINESS CID-14.36%-51.18%-38.60%
CHEROKEE STREET CID0.37%-11.69%-3.43%
CHESTERFIELD VALLEY TDD-5.47%-28.39%-7.11%
DOWNTOWN CID-4.08%-45.14%-3.18%
EUCLID SOUTH CID-6.45%-44.53%-26.29%
LOOP TROLLEY TDD-25.45%-67.55%-46.41%
SOUTH GRAND CID-5.76%-42.15%-26.27%

Performance of some of the CIDs and TDDs reveals just how places oriented to visitors, students, bars, and restaurants.

The Delmar Loop has been crushed

Will we learn anything this time? Is a high portion of local government revenue from sales taxes wise? An example of a different way- the East Loop CID raises funds through an assessment based on land area and square footage of improvements with discounted rate for square feet of upper floors. What about chasing more and more visitors? Let’s instead focus on building great places for the people already there and get more people to live there. Then there would be people there 7 days a week to keep the local economy afloat. Visitors will come to lovable places focused on people over places accommodating cars from elsewhere. Let’s take this shock on our system to reexamine our approach.


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