Our HeadLines e-news service provides HdL clients with the most up-to-date information on trends affecting the economy and is meant to provide you with insight and support in your budget preparation and economic planning. 







U.S. Retail Sales Climb in August for Third Straight Month, but Momentum is Slowing

Sales at retail stores across the country rose in August for the third month in a row in another display of the economy’s resilience, but the momentum appears to be waning after a big burst of demand earlier in the summer once the U.S. reopened for business in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. Retail sales increased 0.6% last month, yet the pace of sales has slowed from earlier in the summer when the economy reopened and many retailers experienced a sharp rebound in customer traffic. Read More


Grocery Foot Traffic Fully Rebounds at Major Chains

Grocery foot traffic has continued on a steady upward trajectory throughout the summer as consumers have grown accustomed to shopping during the pandemic. Although overall customer visits are down 5.3%, Placer.ai noted "much of this was the result of a few outliers that were still seeing significant declines." The tracking firm's latest report positions Albertsons in the lead for monthly grocery visits, its numbers outpacing the previous August by 9.6%.  Read More


The Sears/Kmart Great Disappearing Act Will Reduce Store Count to Just 60

For those keeping score, it’s Sears 32 and Kmart 28. No, they are not playing each other but that’s the latest count of the number of remaining stores each brand still operates and that are not currently available for lease as of this week. And if you need a refresher course, this 60 total compares to about 450 stores in February of last year when Lampert bought the former Sears Holding out of bankruptcy and, as a further reminder, it compares to more than 1,000 Sears and Kmart stores as recently as two years ago.  Read More


West Coast Freight Networks ‘Bursting at the Seams’ With Surging Imports

A crush of goods coming into West Coast seaports is straining capacity at the gateways and on key inland distribution lanes, raising shipping prices for retailers and complicating efforts to replenish inventories following the supply chain upheaval from the coronavirus pandemic. The activity marks a sharp turnaround from the spring, when U.S. ports reported double-digit declines in imports of containers, which carry most retail and manufacturing goods into the U.S. Read More


Bankrupt J.C. Penney is Bought by Mall Operators in Need of Tenants

J.C. Penney reached an agreement to sell its retail business to the mall operators Simon Property Group and Brookfield Property Partners, averting a total liquidation that would have had significant ripple effects through the industry and cost tens of thousands of jobs. The deal will split J.C. Penney into separate companies, with Simon and Brookfield running the retail business and its creditors owning a portion of its real estate. Read More


Best Buy to Experiment with Turning Some Stores into Hubs

Best Buy faces plenty of uncertainty with the coronavirus pandemic, but CEO Corie Barry said the retailer is certain that customer preferences have permanently changed. On a call with reporters, she said the dramatic shift toward online shopping has sparked experimentation at its stores and inspired a new pilot that will turn some of them into major centers for online fulfillment. Read More


Target Reports a Monster Quarter

Target blew past every forecast on Wall Street for its fiscal second quarter as it attracted millions of new customers online, setting a record for same-store sales that drove profits up by an eye-popping 80.3% to $1.7 billion. Sales online and at stores open for at least a year climbed by 24.3% during the quarter ended Aug. 1— an all-time high for the retailer. Same-store sales climbed by 10.9% while the company’s digital sales nearly tripled from a year earlier. Read More



Online Sales Tax in 2020: Fear, Anxiety, and Noncompliance

Alabama has a notably complex web of municipal jurisdictions, but state officials have enacted a reform that permits out-of-state sellers simply to remit the total tax owed to the state, rather than having to deal each local taxing authority. Under that program, the state assumes the responsibility for apportioning out tax revenue to the localities.  Read More


Alabama Lodging Tax Revenue Dipped $12M Since March Compared to 2019

Alabama saw about a $12 million dip in lodging tax revenues compared to 2019 from March to June, according to data from the state. This revenue loss has had a crippling effect on some of Alabama’s cities that rely heavily on this revenue. The League of Municipalities Executive Director Greg Cochran said lodging taxes can make up for about 20% of a city’s budget in some cases.  Read More


Big 10 Mayors Association Request Financial Support Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Made up of the leaders of the largest cities in the state, The Big 10 Mayors Association has joined the Alabama League of Municipalities and the Association of County Commissions of Alabama in calling for direct financial support for cities and counties from the federal government to combat lost revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Read More


Alabama State Senator : Special Session Needed 

In an interview, Senator Scofield explained his support for the legislature’s return to the State House. "I’m concerned about the incentives that will expire at the end of the year. I don’t think it's right to tax the badly needed assistance that Alabamians have received through the federal government. I very much support the effort to pull that back so those badly needed resources are not taxed. I do support a special, and I know the governor is really weighing the need for that."  Listen Here



Georgia's August Net Tax Revenues Up 7.7%

Gross Sales and Use Tax collections for August increased by $60.1 million, or 5.6 percent, from a total of nearly $1.08 billion in Fiscal Year 2020. Net Sales and Use Tax, which totaled roughly $593.6 million for the month, had an increase of $58.1 million, or 10.8 percent, compared to last year. The adjusted Sales Tax distribution to local governments totaled nearly $535.2 million, a decrease of $2.2 million, or -0.4 percent, compared to August 2019.  Read More


State Tax Revenues Hit Hard by COVID-19, Georgia Reports Growth

The financial health of the states continues to decline, as tax revenues fell 7.5% from March to July, a new report shows. Overall, states collected 7.5% less tax revenue in the four months from March to July, despite seeing an 82.1% spike in July from payments that had been delayed because of the onset of the Coronavirus. Declines were widespread, with 33 states reporting total tax revenue declines for the period. Georgia was one of seven that reported growth.  Read More


Expecting Bad News, Georgia Ports Instead Hit a Record

Georgia ports recorded their busiest month ever in August, much to the surprise of state officials who have been bracing for a significant drop in business since the Coronavirus pandemic began. Georgia Port Authority officials predicted that the pandemic’s thrashing of the global economy would likely mean a decline in shipments through much of this year. Instead, workers in Savannah moved 1% more cargo — mostly imports — than they did during their previous best month ever.  Read More



Texas Mayors Warn Pandemic's Effects on City Budgets Will Linger for Years

The mayors of Texas' most populous cities described painful budget cuts with shortfalls of tens of millions of dollars stemming from the Coronavirus pandemic. But they said they're worried that future budgets could be just as difficult to balance for years to come. The temporary closure of businesses and high levels of unemployment due to the pandemic have caused sales tax revenues — which make up a significant portion of cities' budgets — to plummet.  Read More


People Are Spending More On Furniture, Clothes, Restaurants And Bars

After a near-collapse in the spring because of the Coronavirus pandemic, spending at stores and eateries has been above last year's levels. U.S. shoppers spent more prudently in August and retail sales grew a tepid 0.6% compared to July, as tens of millions of unemployed people stopped receiving extra federal jobless benefits and families faced a confusing back-to-school season. And for the first time in months, online stores saw no growth.  Read More


GOP Congressional Candidate In Texas Goes All-Out For Marijuana Reform Ahead Of Election

It’s not what you might expect from a Republican congressional candidate running in Texas, but Tre Pennie wants marijuana federally legalized. He’s releasing a cannabis plan meant to supplement descheduling legislation moving through Congress that he feels will further uplift disadvantaged communities. The Economic-Academic-Reward-Network-In-Training (EARN-IT) Cannabis proposal focuses on promoting education and job training for entrepreneurs interested in entering the industry.  Read More


Podcast: Communications

In his podcast "Leaders In Local Government," HdL consultant Stephen Morris interviews Tiffany Norton, Public Information Officer of Dorchester County, South Carolina. Dubbed the National Communicator of 2020 by the National Association of Government Communicators, Tiffany enforces the belief that communicators must have a seat at the table, listen to their constituency, and maybe venture out of the public sector to build private sector relationships.  Listen Here

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