After a slow start in the first quarter of the year, Arkansas Taxable Sales surged 3.0% higher in the second quarter. Compared to a year earlier, taxable sales were up 3.1%. Gasoline prices edged higher, averaging $2.46, up from $2.11 in the first quarter. As a result, Arkansas Taxable Sales Including Gasoline (ATSIG) grew at a slightly faster rate of 3.2% for the quarter. Over the most recent four quarters, ATSIG was up 2.6%.
Over the past five years, ATS has expanded at an annual rate of 3.0%, while ATSIG has grown at a rate of only 2.5%. The slower pace of the measure including gasoline sales reflects the fact that gasoline prices (and hence gasoline expenditures) were considerably higher in 2014. (Gasoline prices averaged $3.43 in the second quarter of 2014.) Over the same 5-year period, inflation (as measured by the price index for personal consumption expenditures) has averaged a 1.3% annual rate. Consequently, the growth rate of real taxable sales has averaged only 1.7%, or 1.2% including spending on gasoline.
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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 2019:Q2 (Excel file).