Colorado retail spending mostly fell during pandemic, but not for alcohol

Consumer spending in Colorado mostly fell during the pandemic, but not purchases of alcohol, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The U.S. Census Bureau released a report Tuesday detailing the annual change in sales tax collections from March to September for alcohol, tobacco, motor fuels and a broad category known as general sales.

In Colorado, state tax collections for general sales, including online sales, plummeted 17.2% in March from a year earlier and another 9.1% in April and 2.1% in May. A tepid rebound started in June as the economy reopened, with a 1.2% increase. In July they were down 0.85%, up 0.8% in August and by September, up 5.5%, a sign that consumers in the state has become more comfortable spending money again.

Sales tax collections for alcoholic beverages followed a much different pattern. As stay-at-home orders went down in March, people stocked up on alcohol, causing sales tax collections to shoot up 46.6% year-over-year, the third-highest increase of any state after Alaska and New Jersey.

Buyers took a break in April, when tax collections dropped 14.1%. But by May Colorado consumers were back at it, with annual increases in every month that followed through September, when sales were up 20.8%.

“Alcohol taxes are structured differently in each state. States that rely heavily on retail sales through liquor stores will behave differently than those who rely more heavily on restaurant sales for obvious reasons,” said Adam Gundy, a supervisory statistician in the Census Bureau’s Economic Management Division.

A study from SmartAsset a year ago found that although Colorado is one of the healthiest states overall, several counties had high levels of binge drinking.

Tobacco sales tax collections in Colorado were up 14.9% in March, and then fell 11.8% in April. May and June were down slightly, followed by moderate increases in July and August. September recorded an 18.1% gain in tobacco sales.

Owners of gasoline stations in Colorado have struggled with decreased sales throughout the pandemic, with the biggest drop, nearly 30%, coming in April. Sales were down 23.9% in June, which was the fifth-worst showing.

A separate survey from Ibotta details what users of its retail loyalty platform bought more of and less of in the first six months of the year. Spirits purchases were up 33% year-over-year in the first half of 2020, followed by bakery items, up 17%, meat, poultry and seafood, up 16%, condiments, up 15% and deli products, up 15%. Clothing sales suffered a big drop of 37%.

Source: Read Full Article