A closer look at recent sales tax data seems a logical follow-up to the long run view from last time. There are two things to note from this graph: 1) the negative trend is still clearly evident, and 2) the reduction in volatility from the twelve month rolling is clear.
So the questions remain about the causes of the changes. A few radio callers suggested it was easy to tell and that the Canadian exchange rate was the clear culprit. I think this is certainly a suspect, but “clear” is a bit strong. There are many ways this works, but there are non-price factors and the Canadian tax burden that still give incentive to many to shop in Grand Forks. There are other contributing factors too, such as events at the University of North Dakota, the decline in Bakken activity, as well as population factors that explain changes in retail sales.
Those suggestions are the next items being tested, I just felt it important to provide a more recent look to see what a less compressed time series displayed.