LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — Retail sales taxes for Lafayette Parish are on track to be the highest this year in nearly a decade. This year, the parish has already earned $629 million in sales taxes.

Lafayette officials say the COVID-19 pandemic could be what’s causing the jump.

The pandemic has caused a plethora of shortages, whether it be goods and materials, or employees.

This holiday season, that’s having a big impact on how much people are spending on their holiday shopping and when they’re starting to buy their friends and families gifts.

“In October, retailers nationally noted seeing consumers begin their holiday shopping sooner, and that’s to get out ahead of global supply-chain issues, people being concerned about items they want to purchase not being available on the shelves. That is a real concern,” CEO and President of the Lafayette Economic Development Authority Mandi Mitchell said.

Mitchell says the pandemic caused worker shortages in factories. That led to delays in getting raw materials to factories and factories producing finished goods.

“That has caused a ripple effect, and it’s showing in consumer-spending habits. So people are going out there and making those purchases sooner rather than waiting until the last minute, so I think that’s part of what’s driving that jump in spending,” she said.

Mitchell says worker shortages are also causing employers to pay their employees higher wages.

In addition, they’re seeing record levels of savings because the pandemic caused so much uncertainty.

That means people have more money to spend this holiday season.

“We’re starting to see that pent-up consumer demand, that higher consumer confidence, and I think that’s what we’re seeing in these sales results, which are making records every single month,” she told News Ten.

She says in October alone, Lafayette Parish generated $649 million in sales taxes. LEDA anticipates those numbers to keep rising.

“It’s getting out ahead of those fears and concerns of items not being available that they’re looking for that they want to purchase for their loves ones, so they’re getting out and shopping sooner,” Mitchell said.

She also stresses the importance of shopping local this year and supporting friends and neighbors who supply goods and services in Lafayette Parish.