LONG BEACH — Led by strong growth in e-commerce and mail order, Pacific County’s retail sector recorded its best sales totals ever this spring, according to Washington State Department of Revenue statistics released Nov. 17.
In the three months of April, May and June, county retailers reported more than $20.45 million in taxable sales, up about 6.5 percent from spring 2016. This spring’s retail sales were a record, and 14.5 percent better than in the same months of 2008 before the Great Recession.
The DOR compiles reports on economic activity in Washington’s 39 counties based on tax collections. Even though release of information trails sales by up to half a year, these reports are the most accurate information available about the details of local economies.
While many Main Street-type merchants did OK in Pacific County this spring despite bad weather and a long-delayed start to razor clam season, those that sell via the internet and mail did especially well. Without much reliance on the physical presence of buyers, e-commerce and mail order businesses recorded more than $1.65 million in spring quarter sales this year, an 1.7 percent increase over the same period in 2016. Looking at the first six months of 2017, these sales totaled $3.2 million, and increase of 27 percent over the first half of 2016. Although e-commerce remains a small part of Pacific County’s overall economy, it has rapidly expanded, nearly tripling in five years.
Some other retailers that recorded strong year over year gains between spring 2017 and spring 2016 included building materials/gardening supplies, up 9 percent; drug and health stores, up 70 percent; and apparel stores, up 21 percent.
Despite lack of much clamming this spring, restaurant and lodging businesses held their own. They were up about 1.3 percent overall, mostly on the strength of slightly better results in the lodging component of the sector.
Rainy weather this spring didn’t hold back the construction sector, which totaled $11.2 million this spring, up more than 11 percent over the same three months in 2016. Building construction showed a strong rebound of 18.4 percent.
When all different types of business subject to sales tax were combined, total sales for the quarter in the county were $62.5 million, up 5 percent over spring 2016.
Seasonal growth in sales of lawn and garden equipment and continued increases in drug and health store sales helped boost second-quarter taxable retail sales 5 percent over the same period in 2016, reaching a total of $38.6 billion.
Retail trade sales, a subset of all taxable retail sales in the state, were up 4.9 percent to a total of $16.6 billion.
Taxable retail sales are transactions subject to the retail sales tax, including sales by retailers, the construction industry, manufacturing and other sectors. Retail trade includes sales of items such as clothing, furniture and automobiles, but excludes other industries, such as services and construction.
Some highlights of second-quarter 2017 (April – June) statewide taxable retail and retail trade sales:
• Construction rose 6.5 percent to $7.5 billion.
• Taxable retail sales reported by new and used auto dealers increased 4.7 percent to $3.4 billion.
• Taxable retail sales reported by drug and health stores rose 15.4 percent to $730.5 million.
• Taxable e-commerce and mail order sales increased 15.2 percent to $734.6 million.
• Lawn and garden supplies and equipment jumped 19.7 percent to $291.8 million.