Even as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the city of Greenwood’s sales tax collections are increasing.

“I’m very pleased with our sales tax. I really didn’t expect there to be a 19% increase this month,” Mayor Carolyn McAdams said.

The increase is actually a bit higher, up 19.5% from the same month last year. The city’s share of sales tax revenues,  according to the August report released by the Mississippi Department of Revenue, is $431,700.

The monthly sales tax reports released by the state refer to taxes collected by businesses during the prior month. For example, the figures in the August report refer to taxes collected by businesses in July.

The increase follows an earlier  decline. Greenwood’s sales tax collection reports for April and May decreased compared to the same months last year. April’s was down 7.7%, and May’s decreased by 3.9%.

Then, collections rose. June was up by 6.5% and July by 15.6%. August adds a third month to the trend.

“I think people in Greenwood are very supportive of these businesses,” McAdams said. The mayor added that the city’s hotels and restaurants serve as a draw for out-of-towners looking for a weekend getaway.

Barbara Grantham, owner of Delta Boutique on Howard Street, had to close her store to comply with Gov. Tate Reeves’  statewide shelter-in-place order in April. But she said the business has done well since it reopened.

Grantham thanked The Alluvian hotel for her store’s continued success during the pandemic since hotel guests tend to visit her store on Saturdays.

The Alluvian was closed from April 15 until May 21. After the hotel reopened, it then gradually reopened its ancillary services,  said Beth Williams, manager.

“We are seeing a steady increase in traffic in all areas,” Williams said in an email.

“We have adapted the business with reduced occupancy in common areas and dining areas as required by the government mandates and are still also offering curb-side pickup from Giardina’s restaurant as well. Both our spa and cooking school retail operations have made modifications per government mandates but are seeing an increase in customer traffic as well.”

Beth Stevens, executive director of the Greenwood-Leflore County Chamber of Commerce, was more cautious about what Greenwood’s increased sales tax collections meant for retail activity.

“I think it’s kind of a mixed bag,” Stevens said, explaining the situation depends on the type of business and the products it sells.

She noted that people pay sales tax on everything they purchase, from in-person purchases at businesses in town to online purchases. Sales tax from online sales isn’t differentiated from tax on sales in person, she said. For a clearer picture, she said, a breakdown on money collected from in-person sales from businesses in town to those from online sales is needed.

Stevens added that Greenwood hotels, restaurants and other businesses likely benefited from the presence of Bikes, Blues & Bayous participants.

Though the bike ride was on Aug. 1, Stevens said out-of-town participants lodged at hotels and ate at restaurants on July 31, possibly contributing to the percentage increase in the August sales tax collection report.

• Contact Gerard Edic at 581-7239 or gedic@gwcommonwealth.com.

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