Business

Taxable sales fall for sixth quarter

Year-over-year statewide taxable retail sales fell by a record amount in the second quarter of 2009, and Thurston County's dropped for the sixth consecutive quarter, according to state Department of Revenue data released Friday.

Statewide taxable retail sales fell 14 percent from the April to June period of 2008 to the same period this year, while the county’s taxable retail sales dipped more than 9 percent in the same period, the data show.

The statewide decline is the largest on record since 1974, about the time the state started to track retail sales data, Revenue spokesman Mike Gowrylow said. Such declines continue to put pressure on the state and local budget, which also rely on revenue generated by taxable retail sales, he said.

“When it drops there is trouble all around,” Gowrylow said.

As bad as the second quarter was, state revenue forecaster Arun Raha expects some economic improvement through the rest of the year.

“We would expect to see improvement in the third and fourth (quarters). Not robust and rapid improvement, but some improvement,” he said. “Recovering revenue is going to be slow but it will recover.”

The year-over-year second quarter taxable retail sales data show:

Thurston County: Fell 9.06 percent to $920.8 million from $1.012 billion.

Olympia: Fell 4.89 percent to $410.10 million from $431.17 million.

Lacey: Fell 16.21 percent to $230.5 million from $275.16 million.

Tumwater: Fell 12.15 percent to $102.39 million from $116.56 million.

Yelm: Fell 12.27 percent to $35.71 million from $40.7 million.

The state Department of Revenue also reports data for “retail trade,” a narrower category of taxable retail sales that better reflects consumer purchases.

The retail trade data show:

Thurston County: Fell 7.5 percent to $452.6 million from $489.4 million.

Olympia: Fell 13.4 percent to $201.8 million from $233.13 million.

Lacey: Fell 5.72 percent to $135.8 million from $144.14 million.

Tumwater: Rose 0.56 percent to $48.9 million from $48.6 million.

Yelm: Rose 0.80 percent to $21.9 million from $21.7 million.

INDUSTRY SECTORS

In Olympia, industry sectors such as cars, electronic goods and building materials all fell, while in Lacey construction and furniture sales fell sharply, the data show.

The biggest retail sales decline for Olympia on a percentage basis was a 34 percent drop in sales of appliances, TVs and other electronics, possibly the result of the electronics retailer Circuit City closing.

In Lacey, taxable retail sales generated by construction fell 47.8 percent in the year-over-year second-quarter period, yet another sign of the slower housing market.

The state Department of Revenue releases the retail sales data about three months after the quarter has ended.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403

rboone@theolympian.com

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