Arkansas Taxable Sales (ATS) declined by 1.5% in the first quarter of 2018 (seasonally adjusted), but remained 2.9% higher than a year earlier. Derived from data on Arkansas Sales and Use tax collections, ATS is a measure of statewide consumer spending. Another important component of consumer spending – gasoline purchases – was boosted by higher prices in the first quarter: On average, gasoline prices were $2.33 per gallon in Arkansas, up from $2.24 in the fourth quarter of 2017. Total spending on gasoline was up 2.2%. As a result, Arkansas Taxable Sales Including Gasoline (ATSIG) experienced a smaller decline than did ATS – down 1.4% in the first quarter. Compared to a year earlier, ATSIG was up 3.1%.
Since the trough of the “great recession” in 2009:Q2, both ATS and ATSIG have increased at annual rates of 2.9%. After adjusting for inflation of 1.6% per year, “real” taxable sales have increased at a rate of only 1.3%.
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Arkansas Taxable Sales (ATS) is calculated by the Arkansas Economic Development Institute 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 2018:Q1 (Excel file).