Picayune, Poplarville retail sales rise

Published 2:32 pm Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Retail sales in both Picayune and Poplarville rose in October compared to the same month last year, which forecasts better Christmas sales for both economies this year, Mississippi Department of Revenue statistics show.

The latest state sales tax diversion check sent out in December to Picayune hit $334,304.18, compared to $322,956.59 for the same period last year.

Poplarville’s check was for $54,768.11 for December, compared to $50,582.31 for the same period last year.

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That means that Picayune retailed sales during October were up three percentage points while Poplarville’s were up seven percent.

While that’s not a big jump, it forecasts better retail sales this Christmas for Pearl River County merchants, based on last year’s months heading into Christmas.

The December funds were  collected in November for October sales. Picayune is hitting its budgeted mark of collecting an average of $330,000 monthly from sales tax diversions to support the Oct. 1, 2012, to Sept. 30, 2013, city budget.

In September Picayune sales taxes were eight percent above last year’s, so Picayune and Poplarville continue to post gains, although the gains are not as large as officials had hoped.

Sales tax diversion funds make up one-half of Picayune’s city budget receipts for the year. The remainder comes from fees and property taxes.

The results show that the local economy might be coming out of the Great Recession, which has hit merchants and real estate here hard.

The department of revenue calls the rebates back to cities of a portion of the sales taxes a “diversion to cities.” The county governments don’t get to share in sales taxes, although there has been some calls for the county to get a portion of the diversions, but the push has been unsuccessful.

The department of revenue collects a statewide sales tax of seven percent, and diverts 18.5 percent of that 7 percent back to cities.

The trends here are in line with other Gulf Coast communities. The Sun-Herald reported that sales taxes rose in the three lower counties of Jackson, Hancock and Harrison by a combined eight percent in October.

The department of revenue said Gulf Coast sales taxes for October were $286,000 higher than for the same month in 2011. Only Bay St. Louis reported a slight dip in sales tax receipts among the 12 Gulf Coast cities surveyed.

Biloxi retail sales went up the most as tracked by the sales taxes collected along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

(A story by the Sun-Herald was used in compilation of this report.)