Retail sales hit $44.7 billion in third quarter 2018

Growth spurred by construction, new and used auto sales

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Feb. 25, 2019 – Strong sales in construction and new and used automobiles continued to boost the state’s taxable retail sales in third quarter 2018. The taxable retail sales increased by 8.3 percent in the third quarter of 2018 over the same period in 2017, reaching $44.7 billion.

Retail trade, a subset of all taxable retail sales in the state, also increased by 6.9 percent to a total of $18.6 billion. Retail trade includes sales of items such as clothing, furniture and automobiles, but excludes other industries, such as services and construction.

Taxable retail sales are transactions subject to the retail sales tax, including sales by retailers, the construction industry, manufacturing and other sectors.

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 third-quarter 2018 (July – September) taxable retail sales and retail trade sales include:

  • Construction rose 11.6 percent to $9.5 billion.
  • Taxable retail sales reported by new and used auto dealers increased 4.9 percent to $3.7 billion.
  • Sales at general merchandise stores, including warehouse clubs and superstores, increased 13 percent to $2.7 billion.
  • Electronic and appliance store sales jumped 12.8 percent to 1 billion

See third-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. Bellevue and Renton saw the largest increase of the most populated cities. Find out more information about taxable retail sales in:

County Taxable retail sales Percent change Retail trade Percent change
King $17.9 billion 8.2 $6.3 billion 8.9
Pierce $4.6 billion 7.9 $2.2 billion 6.3
Snohomish $4.1 billion 5.7 $2.0 billion 3.9
Spokane $2.8 billion 5.7 $1.3 billion 6.3
Clark $2.1 billion 9.6 $881 million 7.2
Thurston $1.5 billion 9.5 $732 million 6.1
Kitsap $1.3 billion 12.5 $638 million 6.4
Whatcom $1.2 billion 6.4 $536 million 6.9
Yakima $1.0 billion 4.2 $509 million 2.4
Skagit $867 million 10.4 $441 million 4.7

City Taxable retail sales Percent change Retail trade Percent change
Seattle $7.3 billion 6.3 $2.0 billion 8.0
Bellevue $2.1 billion 9.6 $944 million 18.8
Tacoma $1.5 billion 2.9 $669 million 4.5
Spokane City $1.4 billion 2.4 $623 million 3.4
Vancouver $1.1 billion 9.0 $497 million 7.4
Renton $804 million 10.3 $396 million 4.3
Everett $763 million (-0.9) $368 million 0.4
Puyallup $694 million 8.4 $441 million 3.7
Lynnwood $681 million 2.2 $435 million 1.3
Spokane Valley $677 million 4.7 $404 million 6.4

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.

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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.