LONG BEACH — Enjoying tourist traffic generated by a nearly seven-days-a-week razor clam season that started Jan. 6, earlier this year Pacific County retailers posted their best winter sales results since at least 2010.
Retail trade, consisting of goods and services by “Main Street” type businesses, climbed 3.4 percent in the first three months of 2016 compared to the same period in 2015, according a quarterly report released last month by the Washington State Department of Revenue.
The gain was despite weakness for some types of business — for example gas stations and convenience stores, which saw overall sales drop nearly 20 percent, probably due to a decline in the price of gasoline compared to the prior year.
Among the strongest gainers were general merchandise stores (up 15.6 percent), miscellaneous retailers (up 18.2 percent), E-commerce and mail order (up 14.1 percent, and drug/health stores (up 29.2 percent).
Statewide, retail trade rose a healthy 5.1 percent to total $13.9 billion in the first quarter of 2016.
The economic sector of Pacific County most closely linked to tourism also had a positive first quarter. Overall, accommodations and food services recorded more than $8.9 million in receipts this past winter, 3.2 percent better than winter 2015. This sector has displayed consistent growth, with a gain of 41 percent since winter 2010.
The closely watch building construction sector had a decent winter, with about $3.7 million in sales, which was 26 percent better than winter 2015 but nearly 8 percent less than winter 2014.
The broadest set of sales tracked by the state totaled a little more than $49.5 million in the county this winter, 3.7 percent better than the same quarter in 2015. Though not an impressive year-to-year gain, the county’s taxable sales this winter were up 24 percent from winter 2012 when the recession still was in full swing and economic stimulus spending had ended.
Washington state’s taxable retail sales grew 8.9 percent in the first three months of 2016, topping $32 billion.