Slowly but surely, Thurston retail sales increase

rboone@theolympian.comApril 17, 2013 

The Thurston County economy received another example of slow growth as taxable retail sales in the fourth quarter of 2012 eked a tiny gain, rising 0.79 percent from the same period in 2011, according to new state Department of Revenue data.

Although retail sales grew less than one percent in the period, it improved from the fourth quarter of 2011 when retail sales fell 2.5 percent, though it wasn’t as good as the fourth quarter of 2010 when retail sales rose 5.3 percent.

Here are the overall retail results for the county and its largest cities in the year-over-year fourth-quarter period:

 • Thurston County: Rose 0.79 percent to $1 billion from $995.3 million.

 • Olympia: Fell 0.82 percent to $450 million from $453.7 million.

 • Lacey: Rose 1.19 percent to $248.6 million from $245.6 million.

 • Tumwater: Rose 5.59 percent to $118.7 million from $112.4 million.

 • Yelm: Rose 10.4 percent to $42.9 million from $38.8 million.

Olympia continues to generate the lion’s share of retail sales in the county. But in percentage growth terms, Tumwater continues to be a bright spot, although its retail sales growth cooled from the third quarter when it rose 20 percent.

Yelm, too, had a good fourth quarter with retail sales rising by double digits.

The state Department of Revenue also releases a separate category of retail sales known as “retail trade,” considered a better measure of consumer spending.

Here are the retail trade numbers for the county and its largest cities in the same year-over-year fourth-quarter period:

 • Thurston County: Rose 4.12 percent to $547.4 million from $525.8 million.

 • Olympia: Rose 3.1 percent to $245.8 million from $238.4 million.

 • Lacey: Rose 4.7 percent to $158.9 million from $151.7 million.

 • Tumwater: Rose 7.3 percent to $65.9 million from $61.4 million.

 • Yelm: Rose 3.38 percent to $26.1 million from $25.2 million.

A closer look at the city-specific data show that retail sales generated by sales of new and used autos rose 11.7 percent in Olympia in the year-over-year period, while construction in the city fell 17 percent. Construction in Lacey was weaker by 16.4 percent, while retail sales generated by general merchandise stores rose 3.8 percent, the year-over-year data show.

Tumwater benefited from a 5 percent increase in retail sales generated by construction and a 7.7 percent rise in retail sales generated by general merchandise stores.

Once again retail sales generated by sales of electronics and appliances, likely because of the concentration of retailers in the Trosper Road/Littlerock Road area of Tumwater, jumped considerably, rising 57.4 percent, the year-over-year data show.

Note: Percentage figures might be slightly different from state Department of Revenue calculations due to rounding.

RETAIL REBOUNDING

Thurston County fourth-quarter retail sales results since 2007

2012: Rose 0.79 percent

2011: Fell 2.5 percent

2010: Rose 5.3 percent

2009: Fell 1.6 percent

2008: Fell 10.6 percent

2007: Rose 6.55 percent

Source: Department of Revenue Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403 rboone@theolympian.com theolympian.com/bizblog

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