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Timing of Easter makes March sales a flop on the Coast

Easter eggs are ready to hide and hunt in South Mississippi. The timing of Easter pushed sales tax numbers down in March compared to last year, because Easter comes three weeks later this year.
Easter eggs are ready to hide and hunt in South Mississippi. The timing of Easter pushed sales tax numbers down in March compared to last year, because Easter comes three weeks later this year.

The late arrival of the Easter bunny this year put a crack in March sales-tax numbers in South Mississippi.

Sales-tax diversions from the state to the 12 Coast cities fell in March by $653,000 or 12 percent, compared with last year. When Easter was March 27 last year, sales-tax diversions rose by $700,000. Easter is April 16 this year.

The March report is for purchases made in February, reported to the Mississippi Department or Revenue in March and paid to the cities in April.

Though people may not spend as much as they once did on new Easter outfits, the holiday still brings a big boost to business, especially in a tourist area. Spring break for school districts typically falls the week before or after Easter, and hotels, restaurants and attractions all contribute to sales-tax revenue as well as chocolate bunnies.

The date of Easter isn’t as important in Gautier or Waveland, cities that don’t get as much of an economic boost from spring break. But Gulfport’s sales-tax diversion was down by $400,000 in March compared with last year. Biloxi, D’Iberville, Pascagoula and Ocean Springs also saw double-digit decreases in sales-tax revenue for the month.

Sales tax diversions to cities

March 2017

March 2016

Change

Bay St. Louis

$133,150

$122,075

$11,075

Biloxi

$933,519

$1,039,988

–$106,469

D’Iberville

$575,195

$635,548

–$60,353

Diamondhead

$43,270

$42,155

$1,115

Gautier

$183,278

$172,646

$10,632

Gulfport

$1,611,291

$2,014,449

–$403,158

Long Beach

$110,382

$119,217

–$8,835

Moss Point

$155,425

$155,493

–$68

Ocean Springs

$394,665

$430,624

–$35,959

Pascagoula

$432,734

$478,225

–$45,491

Pass Christian

$102,566

$113,293

–$10,727

Waveland

$185,267

$189,762

–$4,495

Total

$4,860,742

$5,513,475

–$652,733

Source: Mississippi Department of Revenue

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