Clark County retail sales up by 13.8 percent in Q1

By Gordon Oliver, Columbian Business Editor

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Clark County’s taxable retail sales grew by 13.8 percent in this year’s first quarter, the largest one-year increase of any large county in the state, the Department of Revenue reported Tuesday.

Clark County’s taxable retail sales totaled $1.32 billion in the period from Jan. 1 to March 31. The county’s retail trade grew by 13.5 percent to $591 million. Retail trade is a subset of all taxable retail sales that includes retailers but excludes industries such as services and construction.

For the state, taxable retail sales grew by 9 percent to $29.7 billion, while retail trade rose 7.5 percent to $13.3 billion.

The state’s review of retail sales by city also showed the strength of the local retail sector in most Clark County cities. Vancouver reported $767 million in taxable retail sales for the quarter, a 15.2 percent increase. Vancouver’s retail trade rose by 13.7 percent to $347 million.

Most Clark County cities saw increases in taxable sales. Battle Ground’s sales rose by 9.5 percent, to $59.6 million. In Camas, a 19.5 percent increase brought sales to $51.3 million. Washougal’s sales rose by 16.7 percent to $34.7 million. La Center had $4.5 million in retail sales, a 4.4 percent increase, and Yacolt’s $2.2 million in sales was a jump of 18.1 percent.

Ridgefield’s sales of $23.1 million for the quarter was a 12.9 percent drop from a year ago. City manager Steve Stuart said Ridgefield had one large commercial construction project in the first quarter of 2014 but no project underway in this year’s first quarter.

Statewide taxable sales were up by large percentages in these categories:

• Health and drug store sales: 20.3 percent

• E-commerce and mail orders: 19.2 percent

• Building and garden supply stores: 16.7 percent

• New and used vehicles: 11.6 percent.

The percentage increases are in comparison to the first quarter of 2014, which equalizes any seasonal effects of consumer purchasing habits.