Retail sales hit $37.6 billion in first quarter 2018

Growth spurred by construction and lawn and garden supplies sales

OLYMPIA, WASH. – Aug. 9, 2018 – A bump in construction and lawn and garden supplies and equipment sales helped boost the state’s taxable retail sales in first quarter of 2018. The sales increased by 10.3 percent over the same period in 2017, reaching $37.6 billion.

Retail trade, a subset of all taxable retail sales in the state, also increased by 8.6 percent to a total of $15.8 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.

These figures are part of a quarterly report released today by the Washington State Department of Revenue. The taxable retail sales figures compare the same quarter year-over-year to equalize any seasonal effects that would influence consumer and business spending.

Some highlights of first quarter 2018 (January - March) taxable retail sales and retail trade sales include:

  • Construction rose 11.1 percent to $7.4 billion
  • Taxable retail sales reported by new and used auto dealers increased 2.2 percent to $3.3 billion
  • Drug and health store sales jumped 9.1 percent to $733 million
  • Lawn and garden supplies and equipment rose by 13.7 percent to $186 million

See first-quarter 2018 taxable retail sales and retail trade sales by industry.

Of the top 10 most populated counties in the state, Kitsap and Skagit counties enjoyed the largest overall taxable retail sales percentage increase. Spokane Valley and Vancouver saw the largest increase of the most populated cities.

See first-quarter 2018 taxable retail sales and retail trade sales for cities and counties:

County Taxable retail sales Percent change Retail trade Percent change
King $15.4 billion 9.0 $5.3 billion 6.5
Pierce $4.0 billion 10.4 $1.9 billion 8.2
Snohomish $3.5 billion 10.1 $1.8 billion 6.8
Spokane $2.3 billion 10.1 $1.1 billion 9.0
Clark $1.8 billion 13.9 $747 million 10.2
Thurston $1.3 billion 9.4 $630 million 11.9
Kitsap $1.1 billion 14.8 $556 million 10.4
Whatcom $1.0 billion 10.8 $450 million 12.7
Yakima $936 million 14.1 $453 million 10.5
Skagit $717 million 14.9 $371 million 8.8

City Taxable retail sales Percent change Retail trade Percent change
Seattle $6.4 billion 9.4 $1.7 billion 5.8
Bellevue $1.8 billion 3.4 $739 million 6.9
Tacoma $1.4 billion 9.4 $601 million 3.8
Spokane City $1.2 billion 8.7 $534 million 6.4
Vancouver $980 million 13.9 $429 million 8.0
Renton $706 million 6.3 $350 million 4.4
Everett $699 million 5.6 $331 million 1.4
Lynnwood $597 million 8.3 $388 million 8.3
Spokane Valley $567 million 11.5 $336 million 11.0
Puyallup $598 million 9.3 $393 million 9.1

Check Revenue’s Statistics and Reports page for additional detail about taxable retail sales.

Understanding how businesses are classified

Revenue uses business tax return data to create this quarterly report. Businesses are categorized under the U.S. Census Bureau’s classification system based on their primary taxable activity. The North American Industry Classification System – or NAICS – is the same method federal statistical agencies use for the purpose of analyzing economic data.

Highest taxable retail sales: top 10 cities

Highest taxable retail sales: top 10 counties

Statewide snapshot of taxable retail sales

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The Department of Revenue is Washington state’s primary tax agency, nationally recognized as a trusted leader in tax administration and customer service. Revenue administers nearly 60 categories of taxes that help fund vital public services. It also oversees programs that return money to the public, including the Working Families Tax Credit and Unclaimed Property.