With consumer purchasing power boosted by low gasoline prices, Arkansas Taxable Sales (ATS) surged in the fourth quarter of 2014, increasing by 2.7% from the previous quarter and up 4.5% from a year earlier. With gasoline prices falling by nearly 18% from the third quarter to the fourth quarter, Arkansans were paying quite a bit less to fill their tanks. The dollar-value of gasoline sales fell by 9.1 (seasonally adjusted). Consequently, Arkansas Taxable Sales Including Gasoline (ATSIG) increased more slowly than the ATS, increasing by 1.8% for the quarter and 3.4% from a year earlier.
Since the official end of the recession (2009:Q2), ATS has increased by 19.4% (a 3.3% annual rate) and ATSIG has increased by 20.4% (3.4% annual rate). However, inflation–as measured by the price index for Personal Consumption Expenditures–has been associated with an increase in prices of about 9.4% over the same period. Consequently, real taxable sales have only been increasing at an annual rate of 1.6% (not including gasoline) and by 1.8% (including gasoline). After this adjustment for the effects of inflation, real taxable sales are only now recovering to levels comparable to the pre-recession cyclical peak of 2008:Q2.
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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 monthly and quarterly data is available here: Arkansas Taxable Sales 2014:Q4 (Excel file). Note: With this release, seasonal factors for the monthly data have been revised.