Thurston County taxable retail sales rose more than 5 percent in the first quarter of the year, the best first-quarter performance by the county in six years and another sign that the local economy continues to improve.
Countywide retail sales rose 5.35 percent, the best first quarter since 2007 when first-quarter retail sales rose 6.9 percent, according to state Department of Revenue data.
The county’s largest cities also had good first quarters, showing uniform upward growth after a period in which spending had been slow to flat. The city of Tumwater, which had impressed the past year with surprisingly high double-digit retail sales growth, finally came down to earth in a more typical growth rate.
Tumwater finance director Jim Hendrickson said the city benefitted the past year from a spurt of one-time spending, and the Walmart store on Littlerock Road has now been open more than a year, which means it is “balancing out with everybody else.”
Walmart planted roots in an area of Tumwater that also is home to Costco, Fred Meyer, Albertsons and Walgreens.
Olympia, which generates the largest share of retail sales in the county, had a good first quarter, helped by sales of new and used vehicles at the Olympia Auto Mall. Retail sales generated by sales of new and used vehicles in the city rose to about $77 million in the first quarter, from about $68 million in the first quarter of 2012, Revenue data show.
New and used car sales statewide did well, too, rising 11.6 percent to $2.3 billion in the first quarter.
Here is the total taxable retail sales data for the county and its four largest cities in the year-over-year, first-quarter period:
Thurston County: Rose 5.35 percent to $932.8 million from $885.5 million.
Olympia: Rose 6.26 percent to $425.1 million from $400.1 million.
Lacey: Rose 2.37 percent to $222.6 million from $217.4 million.
Tumwater: Rose 2.8 percent to $100.2 million from $97.5 million.
Yelm: Rose 6.88 percent to $38.1 million from $35.6 million.
The state Department of Revenue also releases a separate category of retail sales called retail trade, a subset of total taxable retail sales. It includes retailers, but excludes industries such as services and construction.
Here are the county and city retail trade results for the year-over-year, first-quarter period:
Thurston County: Rose 10.09 percent to $492.1 million from $447 million.
Olympia: Rose 14.6 percent to $231.5 million from $202 million.
Lacey: Rose 8.17 percent to $132.6 million from $122.6 million.
Tumwater: Rose 2.43 percent to $55.3 million from $53.9 million.
Yelm: Rose 6.73 percent to $23.7 million from $22.2 million.
Meanwhile, statewide taxable retail sales rose 8.2 percent to $12 billion in the first quarter.
Note: Due to rounding, percentage change figures might be different from those released by the state.
Thurston County first quarter taxable retail sales since 2005
2005: Rose 8.4 percent.
2006: Rose 9.9 percent.
2007: Rose 6.9 percent.
2008: Fell 1.3 percent.
2009: Fell 7.9 percent.
2010: Fell 0.1 percent.
2011: Rose 1.1 percent.
2012: Rose 3 percent.
2013: Rose 5.35 percent.Source: State Department of Revenue Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403 firstname.lastname@example.org