Sales Slip In Ocean Springs As Economy Struggles To Grow

OCEAN SPRINGS (WLOX) -- The doors of Bayview Furniture in Ocean Springs don't open quite as often as they used to.

"It's not good right now. The more they hear about recession, a gas price going up, everyone's holding onto their money right now," store manager Marsha Altstatt said.

Altstatt says sales in her store are down $100,000 compared to this same time last year.

"Post Katrina, it was really good. We were busy six days a week, opening to close. But in the past year, it's started to go down," Altstatt said.

A similar business bloat is being felt city wide. Sales tax revenue in Ocean Springs during the past five months is down about $200,000 compared to last year. If the current trend continues, revenues could fall nearly a half-million dollars.

We brought the numbers to Ward 6 Alderman James Hagan.

"It's not so much that these are down, it's just that last year was so high. It's going to be hard to keep that number up and sustain it for a long time," Hagan said.

City leaders did create a backup plan last year, in case retail sales began to slip, carrying over $1.5 million from the 2007 budget to 2008.

"It's not going to hurt us in any manner. It's just always nice to have more," Hagan said.

Altstatt says she could definitely use more customers. But with so much uncertainty in the national economy and record high gas prices, she's counting on tax refund checks to bring business back.

"We'll be able to hang on, but it's going to be tough," she said.

Alderman Jerry Dalgo says the seven months left in the fiscal year is plenty of time for the sales tax numbers to catch up, and the city has a healthy reserve.