Preliminary data on Arkansas Taxable Sales (ATS) show a slight decline in the fourth quarter of 2013 — down 0.2% from the previous quarter (seasonally adjusted). The fourth quarter decline followed a 0.7% contraction in the third quarter. Expenditures on gasoline fell by 7.5% in the fourth quarter, primarily as a result of lower prices. Accordingly, Arkansas Taxable Sales Including Gasoline (ATSIG) declined by 0.5% compared to the previous quarter. Over the four quarters from 2012:Q4 to 2013:Q4, the net increase in ATS was 2.1%. Including gasoline, the year-over-year gain was only 1.1%.
For the year as a whole, ATSIG was 2.5% higher than the previous year — matching the rate of increase from 2011-2012. Following a 7.4% decline during the recession year of 2009, taxable sales had shown a rebound of 5.2% in 2010. The slower growth in subsequent three years has barely exceeded the rate of CPI inflation. (Annual CPI increases were 3.1% in 2011, 2.1% in 2012, and 1.5% in 2013.)
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Arkansas Taxable Sales (ATS) is calculated by the Institute for Economic Advancement to serve as a timely proxy for Arkansas retail sales. The series is derived from sales and use tax data, adjusting for the relative timing of tax collections and underlying sales, changes in tax laws, and seasonal patterns in the data. Arkansas Taxable Sales Including Gasoline (ATSIG) incorporates data on the state motor fuel tax and gasoline prices from the Oil Price Information Service.
A spreadsheet of the data is available here: Arkansas Taxable Sales 2013:Q4(P) (Excel file)
* Data are preliminary until the release of the DFA report, Arkansas Fiscal Notes for January 2014, and will be updated when information becomes available.