Arkansas Taxable Sales (ATS) rebounded in the second quarter of 2018, increasing by 1.8% after a 1.5% decline in the first quarter . Compared to a year earlier, ATS was up 2.9%. After adjusting for inflation, the year-over-year increase amounts to a real gain of only 0.8%.
Including gasoline purchases, Arkansas Taxable Sales Including Gasoline (ATSIG) expanded by 2.0% in the second quarter and was up 4.0% from a year earlier. The relative strength in gasoline sales has been driven by higher prices: The average gasoline price in Arkansas in the second quarter was $2.57, up from $2.33 in the first quarter and $2.11 in the second quarter of 2017. Accordingly, spending on gasoline increased by 5.6% in the second quarter and was up 23.2% from a year earlier. From 2017:Q2 through 2018:Q2 gasoline sales increased from 5.0% to 5.9% of total ATSIG.
Since the trough of the Great Recession both ATS and ATSIG have expanded at annual rates of approximately 3%. Over the same period, inflation (as measured by the PCE price index) has averaged 1.6%. Consequently, real spending has been growing at a pace of about 1.4%.
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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:Q2 (Excel file).