Pandemic Retail Photo

Morgan Clyburn, a sales associate at Sassy and Brassy Boutique, rearranges clothing on display in the downtown Gallatin business. JOSH CROSS

Overall consumer spending in Sumner County increased during the first five months of 2020 despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, however local officials say not all businesses are benefitting from the growth.

Net sales tax collections countywide topped $23.45 million through May – 5.2 percent more than during the same time period last year, according to the most recent data from the Tennessee Department of Revenue.

The figures reflect sales taxes from eight cities along with the all unincorporated areas of the county.

“I was pleasantly surprised that the numbers were still an increase each month when compared to the prior when there was no (pandemic),” Sumner County Trustee Cindy Williams said about the numbers. “When all of the businesses shut down, I thought it wasn’t good and I was afraid we were not going to have the sales tax (gains) like we had been experiencing, but we did.

“So many people were likely bored at home, so they did a bunch of online shopping.”

Overall, Sumner County has had an average increase in sales tax collections of 5.25 percent each month when compared to 2019, according to state.

April had the lowest increase at 2.16 percent amid a month-long safer at home order that was issued by Gov. Bill Lee. March had the second smallest gain at 2.97 percent.

As the state began to reopen in May, consumer spending rebounded, according to the sales tax data. Countywide there was an 8 percent increase in net sales tax collections when compared to the previous year.

While overall spending may still be on the rise, the pandemic has not affected every business the same, according to Charles Alexander, director of the Tennessee Small Business Development Center at Volunteer State Community College.

“I’m dealing with so many small business owners that are dealing with some heavy losses and several that are not reopening,” Alexander said. “Virtually all local retail, restaurants and event centers have all taken a hit.”

Other business service providers like certified public accountants and marketing firms have also been negatively impacted financially in recent months as a result of the pandemic while local contractors and liquor stores have reported increased sales, he added.

For the past several months, Alexander said he has spent most of his time answering questions from small business owners interested in receiving federal financial assistance through the Payment Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program.

“We’re also working with some local certified public accountants to try to subsidize people who are needing PPP loan forgiveness, but are having trouble navigating the process,” Alexander added. “In terms of the number of people that have applied, it seems like everybody I speak to has applied for one or both (programs).”

For more information about the Payment Protection Program or Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, visit www.tsbdc.org/vscc and request free counseling.

Recommended for you