Thursday, September 24, 2020
Sept. 24, 2020

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Clark County retail sales growth tops state

Economist credits growth in employment

By , Columbian Business Editor
Published:

Retail sales boomed in Clark County during last year’s third quarter, with a 13.4 percent year-over-year increase in taxable retail sales that far exceeded the state’s overall 7.8 percent increase.

Clark County retail sales from July through September totaled $1.59 billion. The 13.4 percent growth rate was the highest among the state’s 10 largest counties. Other counties saw increases ranging from 1.3 percent in Yakima County to 10.6 percent in King County.

Clark County reported $697 million in retail trade, a subset of all taxable retail sales that includes retailers but excludes services and construction. That’s a 10.1 percent increase from a year ago, the highest among the state’s top 10 counties.

The state’s retail trade increased by just 5.8 percent.

The city of Vancouver accounted for $911 million of the state’s taxable retail sales, a 15.4 percent increase for the quarter. In the retail trade subset, Vancouver’s $406 million for the quarter was 11 percent higher than a year ago.

Camas reported $63 million in taxable retail sales, a 3.3 percent increase.

Clark County beat the statewide average in taxable sales growth in all three of last year’s quarters in which data is available, as well as for the entire year of 2014.

“We’re growing faster than the state in retail sales because we’re growing faster than the state in employment and we’re probably catching up income-wise, too,” said Scott Bailey, regional economist for the state Employment Security Department. “That’s just going to boost peoples’ buying.”

Bailey speculated that the county numbers might reflect a decrease in retail sales “leakage” to Oregon, although he does not have data to establish whether more residents are shopping closer to home.

The data was released Wednesday by the Washington State Department of Revenue. Its reports compare the same quarter year-over-year to equalize any seasonal effects of consumer purchasing behavior.

The state as a whole reported $35.8 billion in taxable retail sales, a 7.8 percent increase over the same quarter in 2014. Retail trade accounted for $15.4 billion of the state’s total taxable retail sales.

Some statewide highlights:

• Sales of vehicles and auto parts increased 10.1 percent to almost $4 billion.

• Purchases in building materials and gardening stores rose 7.3 percent to $1.6 billion.

• General merchandise stores reported a 2.5 percent sales increase to $2.8 billion.

• Accommodations, restaurants and bars statewide increased 8 percent to $4.4 billion.

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