Clark County retail sales up 9.7% in 2Q

Increase driven by a 19.6% spike in new construction

By Cami Joner, Columbian retail & real estate reporter

Published:

 
photoClick to enlarge

The growing strength of Clark County's housing recovery and a shot of consumer confidence delivered a 9.7 percent increase in local retail sales in the spring, according to a Wednesday report.

Figures from the Washington State Department of Revenue showed county sales activity subject to tax totaled $1.2 billion in the three months ending in June, up $200 million from the same period last year and led by a 19.6 percent increase in new construction, primarily housing. Meanwhile, retail trade, or store-only sales, also increased by 8.8 percent to $550 million, with sales of new and used motor vehicles and parts leading the way. Auto-related sales in the second quarter topped $112.4 million, rising 12.6 percent over the 99.8 million reported during the same period in 2012.

Some local experts said the report indicated less fear in the marketplace, especially among buyers of new homes and cars.

"Most of the sales tax on new construction is residential," said Pam Lindloff, an associate vice president and retail expert with NAI Norris Beggs and Simpson in its Vancouver office.

State numbers showed sales tax reported on new construction increased by $10 million in Clark County during the second quarter. The increase coincides with the resurrected new housing market, a core component of Clark County's economy, The county experienced a 24 percent year-over-year jump in home construction during the quarter, according to community development data that tracks the number of building permits issued to build single-family homes in unincorporated Clark County and Vancouver.

The home sales, in turn, generate additional retail sales, Lindloff said.

"Next, you get an increase in building materials, gar

dening equipment and supplies," she said. Spending in the sales tax category grew to $72.6 million in sales, up from $60.3 million in the same three months of 2012, the state reported.

Others saw the bump in Clark County retail sales as part of a trend attracting new retail businesses to the area.

"I get a lot of calls from people thinking about opening a business," said Deborah Ewing, a commercial real estate broker specializing in the retail sector for Vancouver-based Eric Fuller and Associates Inc. "They are feeling confident about moving forward."

The report issued Wednesday also said statewide taxable retail sales increased by 8.3 percent in the second quarter, reaching $29 billion for the first time since 2008.

Among the state's most improved sectors were construction, up 18.6 percent to $4.7 billion; accommodations and food services, up 6.1 percent to $3.4 billion; new and used car sales, up 13.6 percent to $2.5 billion; and E-commerce and mail order purchases, up 22.1 percent to $374 million.