Retail sales reach $170.2 billion in 2018

Growth fueled by construction, auto sales, garden equipment and supplies

OLYMPIA, WASH. – May 16, 2019 – Continued gains in construction and auto sales sent taxable retail sales climbing once again to a record $170.2 billion in 2018, a 9.6 percent gain over 2017.

Retail trade, a subset of all taxable retail sales in the state, also increased by 7.2 percent in 2018 over 2017 to a total of $71.5 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 an annual report released today by the Washington State Department of Revenue. The agency reports on a quarterly and annual basis the total taxable retail sales reported by businesses on their Washington tax returns. The agency uses Census Bureau classifications to report the sales revenues by sector.

Some highlights of 2018 taxable retail and retail trade sales:

  • Construction rose 14 percent to $35.2 billion.
  • Taxable retail sales reported by new and used auto dealers increased 2.3 percent to $13.9 billion.
  • Sales of building materials, garden equipment and supplies rose 8 percent to $7.5 billion.
  • Electronic and appliance stores increased by 12.6 percent to $4.3 billion.

See 2018 taxable retail sales and retail trade sales by industry.

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

Find out more information about taxable retail sales in:

County All taxable retail sales Percent change Retail trade Percent change
King $69.0 billion 9.7 $24.1 billion 7.3
Pierce $17.6 billion 9.4 $8.6 billion 7.3
Snohomish $15.7 billion 8.0 $7.9 billion 5.1
Spokane $10.6 billion 8.4 $5.1 billion 8.0
Clark $7.9 billion 10.0 $3.0 billion 7.0
Thurston $5.7 billion 8.1 $3.0 billion 7.2
Kitsap $5.1 billion 13.8 $3.0 billion 6.6
Whatcom $4.5 billion 7.3 $2.0 billion 7.5
Benton $4.2 billion 6.7 $2.1 billion 6.5
Yakima $4.1 billion 6.4 $2.0 billion 4.8

City All taxable retail sales Percent change Retail trade Percent change
Seattle $28.3 billion 8.8 $7.8 billion 8.0
Bellevue $8.2 billion 8.5 $4.0 billion 10.0
Tacoma $5.8 billion 6.5 $3.0 billion 4.5
Spokane City $5.4 billion 5.3 $2.0 billion 4.4
Vancouver $4.3 billion 8.7 $2.0 billion 5.8
Renton $3.0 billion 6.0 $2.0 billion 2.6
Everett $3.0 billion 2.6 $1.0 billion 1.4
Puyallup $3.0 billion 7.8 $2.0 billion 5.3
Lynnwood $3.0 billion 3.8 $2.0 billion 0.9
Spokane Valley $3.0 billion 7.6 $2.0 billion 8.3

Check Revenue’s Retail sales for cities and counties page for more information about taxable retail sales for quarters 1 – 4 of 2018, and for previous years.

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.