Short answer: $1.3 billion in taxable sales in 2014, less than nearby cities, but more per square mile and almost double 15 years ago

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Selling goods to people is a significant piece of West Hollywood’s economy, whether it’s a meal, a drink, a couch, or a jacket.

The volume of sales can tell us something about: (1) the strength of West Hollywood’s economy, (2) the success of the City’s economic development efforts, (3) the sales tax money coming in to pay for City programs ($11 million in 2015), and (4) the volume of visitors, since they’re doing a lot of the buying.

In this report, we’ll focus on tangible goods that are subject to the sales tax. The State tracks those sales and publishes the data. Some goods — such as pharmaceuticals and most groceries — are excluded. Services — such as haircuts — are also excluded. Lodging is covered by a different tax.


Taxable sales in 2014

The California Board of Equalization says that there were $1.3 billion ($1,286,364,000) in taxable sales in West Hollywood in 2014. Most of that — $1.1 billion — was for retail and food services.

All of the nearby cities had higher totals. For example, sales were a third higher in Culver City ($1.8 billion) and twice as high in Beverly Hills ($2.8 billion).

Source: California Board of Equalization, “Taxable Sales by City, 2014.”


Taxable sales per capita

When we adjusted for population, West Hollywood moved from last to third among nearby cities. West Hollywood had $36,000 in taxable sales per resident in 2014. That was more than twice the state average of $16,000 and three times the per capita sales in the City of Los Angeles ($11,000). Santa Monica was just below West Hollywood with $34,000.

Culver City and Beverly Hills still had more than West Hollywood. Culver City’s sales were about 20% higher, $44,000 per capita. Beverly Hills stood apart with $80,000 per capita, more than twice the West Hollywood number.

Source: California Board of Equalization; California Department of Finance for population estimates; our analysis.


Taxable sales per square mile

When we adjusted for physical size, West Hollywood came out on top. West Hollywood led nearby cities in taxable sales per square mile, with $680 million. Beverly Hills was second with $485 million per square mile, a quarter less than West Hollywood. Santa Monica was third at $375 million.

Source: California Board of Equalization; Wikipedia; our analysis.


Growth in taxable sales

How has West Hollywood’s volume of sales changed over time? The city closely mirrored the state in sales growth over one-, three-, and five-year periods ending in 2014. For example, West Hollywood’s taxable sales grew 6% from 2013 to 2014, while California’s grew 5%.

Over longer periods, West Hollywood’s sales have grown much faster than the state’s. Over the last 15 years (1999 to 2014), sales almost doubled in West Hollywood (a 94% increase). During the same period, sales in California grew 56%.

Source: California Board of Equalization; our analysis.


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Short answer: $1.3 billion in taxable sales in 2014, less than nearby cities, but more per square mile and almost double 15 years ago| Selling goods to people is a significant piece of West Hollywood's economy, whether it's a meal, a drink, a couch, or a jacket. The volume...