Texas’ economy is "surging" with no signs of slowing down as businesses in other states such as California voluntarily close during the spike in cases.
"With Christmas shopping jump-started by the early start of holiday promotional pricing weeks ahead of Black Friday, and despite supply chain clogs and household budgets pressured by rising prices for food and gasoline, consumer spending drove double-digit increases in receipts from retail trade," Republican Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar said, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Texas brought in more sales tax than ever before in December, hitting $3.6 billion. Texas recorded only four months before the pandemic when sales taxes collected $3 billion or more. Now, the state has recorded nine consecutive months, from April to December, of hitting or exceeding the benchmark.
Hegar said consumers sent the Texas economy "surging" in all major sectors.
"But double-digit growth continued in receipts from home improvement and furniture stores, sporting goods and hobby stores, and online general merchandisers, segments boosted a year ago by pandemic spending patterns," Hegar said.
"Receipts from restaurants, another sector depressed a year ago, were also up sharply and well above pre-pandemic levels."
A budget analyst with the nonprofit policy institute Every Texan said Hegar’s report proves he’s been "very conservative" in his revenue projections. She said the state will end up with $2 billion more in sales tax than Hegar’s projected $38.6 billion of consumption tax.
"If things keep going the way they’re going in the first four months of the fiscal year 2022, we’ll end with a couple billion more in just sales tax alone," analyst Eva DeLuna Castro told the Dallas Morning News.
"Again, that’s just for one year of the two-year budget," she said, adding that the report doesn’t show slowdown from the omicron variant of the virus.
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted Monday evening that "Texas is the #1 state for business."
Meanwhile, businesses in other states are closing up shop as the omicron variant surges in the nation. Restaurants and bars in San Francisco’s Bay Area are voluntarily closing on a temporary basis and laying off dozens of employees.
The rate of coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in Texas sat at 15,197 compared to California's 13,117, according to Statista data as of Dec. 16.
"These are really hard decisions and we're tired of trying to figure it out," Christian Albertson, owner of The Monk's Kettle in San Rafael, told ABC 7.
He said the restaurant will be closed until the spring and that he laid off about 35 workers - none of whom had recently tested positive for the virus.
"Upending everyone's life is really the hardest part about it," he said.
"We feel a moral responsibility to provide guests and staff a safe environment to dine in, right now, it's a dangerous time."
Albertson noted "we will be back."
Other restaurants and bars in the area are doing the same. The Papermill Creek Saloon in West Marin will be closed until Jan. 12, while San Francisco restaurants Piperaide, Che Fico and Cassava are also temporarily closing, and four bars in SF’s Castro neighborhood closed up over the holidays, according to ABC 7.
"We already had one of our employees have a breakthrough COVID infection, we didn't want anyone else getting sick," said Joe Cappelletti, owner of San Francisco bar Moby Dick.