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First quarter retail sales fall in Thurston County

Thurston County retail sales fell more than 2 percent in the first quarter of the year, a disappointing result after statewide retail sales rose 5 percent in the same period.

And in Lacey, one category of retail sales fell nearly 7 percent, according to new data released by the state Department of Revenue.

The downturn likely explains a recent city of Lacey announcement that the city’s general fund for next year is facing a possible shortfall of about $975,000. The general fund receives a significant portion of its funding from sales tax revenue.

That might come as a surprise to many in Lacey, given all the retail stores the city has, but on a sales tax per capita basis, Lacey ranks lower than Yelm, Olympia and Tumwater at $185 per capita, City Manager Scott Spence told the council last year. Olympia stands at more than $300 per capita, he said.

Here’s how overall retail sales in the county and its four largest cities did in the year-over-year first quarter period:

•  Thurston County: Fell 2.62 percent to $908.4 million from $932.8 million.



•  Olympia: Fell 4.46 percent to $406.1 million from $425.1 million.



•  Lacey: Fell 5.87 percent to $209.5 million from $222.6 million.



•  Tumwater: Rose 3.21 percent to $103.5 million from $100.2 million.



•  Yelm: Rose 2.93 percent to $39.2 million from $38.1 million.



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

Here’s how the county and four largest cities did in the same year-over-year period:

•  Thurston County: Fell 2.33 percent to $480.6 million from $492.1 million.



•  Olympia: Fell 3.88 percent to $222.5 million from $231.5 million.



•  Lacey: Fell 6.9 percent to $123.5 million from $132.6 million.



•  Tumwater: Rose 2.13 percent to $56.4 million from $55.3 million.



•  Yelm: Rose 1.05 percent to $23.9 million from $23.7 million.



Lacey Finance Director Troy Woo said the city has felt the effects of one business relocation and two closures in 2013. That’s when a Titus-Will auto dealership relocated out of the city and both Top Food & Drug and Wholesale Sports closed. Two of those vacancies are going to be filled by three businesses, however.

Burlington, formerly known as Burlington Coat Factory, is set to open in the former Top Food space on Martin Way, and both Sports Authority and Petco are set to occupy the former Wholesale Sports space on Marvin Road.

Statewide retail sales grew 4.9 percent to $27.3 billion in the year-over-year first quarter period.

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