Tri-Cities Feb. sales tax collections range from ho-hum to poor

February’s sales tax collections set another record for the Kingsport-Bristol Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). But unlike last year performance is a string of poor numbers.

Seasonally adjusted collections were 12% lower than February last year. That’s the largest year-over-year decrease in eight years. It was also the second straight month the four-county MSA’s seasonally adjusted collections were below last year’s total. Kingsport-Bristol was the only metro area in the state with a negative year-over-year performance number. So far this year collections are running 6.7% behind the first two months of last year.

The Johnson City MSA collections were up, but it was less than a point and the third straight month of lackluster performance compared to other NE Tenn. metro areas and those around the state. Year-to-date Johnson City’s collections are up .04% above the first two months of last year.

Stateside collections were up 5.3% when compared to February last year and down 0.3% from January, according to the February report from Middle Tennessee State University’s Department of Economics and Finance.

Here’s how February looked for the NE Tenn. metro areas. The month-to-month positions are listed first followed by year-to-year.

Johnson City, +4.1%, +0.3%

Kingsport-Bristol, +4.1%, -12%

Knoxville, +1.8%, +2.2%

Morristown, -1.4%, up 5.5%

Metro area market share of sales tax collections benchmarked against 2018 annual market share.

So far this year Johnson City MSA collections total $31.2 million, and Kingsport-Bristol collections are $33.5 million.

Shifting over to the market share metric, Knoxville and Morristown’ year-over-year collections performance was above the 2018 benchmark. Johnson City was at the same level as the benchmark and Kingsport-Bristol recorded its second month of underperformance.

Local collections are in line with U.S. consumer spending for the first two months of the year. Spending posted a modest February increase on the heels of a less-than-expected January report. Economists say that could be a sign the economy is losing momentum after growth slowed in Q4.