Dothan retail is booming during pandemic

The hospitality sector appears to be rebounding after sharp downturn.
Published: Dec. 2, 2020 at 9:06 PM CST
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) -Dothan’s retail industry is booming during the pandemic with sales tax revenue $3 million over budget in the first two months of this fiscal year.

The city collected north of $13 million during October and November, compared to a $10.5 million budget. The fiscal year began October 1.

Mayor Mark Saliba believes because people are traveling less, they are spending more at local merchants.

He admits the city budgeted conservatively for FY 2021 but, even so, sales tax revenue has surpassed last year’s collections during the same months by $1.7 million.

There is another economic bright spot. The hospitality sector that has struggled in 2020 appears to be on the mend. After the hotel occupancy rate dropped to 38 percent in April it has rebounded.

By October, that rate reached 68 percent, Visit Dothan Executive Director Aaron McCreight told WTVY. That’s about 20 percent above the national average, per tourism publications.

He credits the robust rebound mostly on the youth and amateur sports that lure athletes to Dothan. “When the governor said on June 15 that we could play ball again until about a week ago there wasn’t an open weekend at our sports facilities.”

McCreight expects the usual holiday slow down but hopes 2021 will be a banner year for tourism.

“We will be at 50 sporting events (that will bring people from out of town) next year,” he said.

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