Retail sales up 15.7% in third quarter 2021

OLYMPIA, Wash. – March 17, 2022 –– The third quarter of 2021 saw a healthy increase in taxable retail sales across the state over third quarter 2020, reaching a total of $55.3 billion, thanks to strong sales in new and used automobiles and increasing construction activity.

Retail trade, a subset of all taxable retail sales in the state, also increased 10.5% for a total of $24.1   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-to-year to equalize any seasonal effects that would influence consumer and business spending.

Here are some sectors that saw increases in taxable retail sales during the third quarter 2021 compared to the same period (July-September) in 2020:

  • Construction increased 13.2% to a total of $11.5 billion.

  • Taxable retail sales reported by new and used auto dealers rose 9% to bring in $4.2 billion.

  • Building materials, garden equipment and supplies increased 2.7% bringing in $2.7 billion.

  • Taxable retail sales in general merchandise stores grew by 8.4% to a total of $3.5 billion.

  • Apparel and Accessories sales increased by 37.8% to a total of $1.4 billion.

The majority of sectors saw healthy third quarter taxable retail sales increases from the previous year’s third quarter.

See third quarter 2021 taxable retail sales and retail trade sales by industry.

Find out more information about taxable retail sales in:

Counties.

Cities.

Some highlights of 10 counties and cities in the state:

County

Taxable retail sales

Percent change

Retail trade

Percent change

King

  $20.8 billion

    19.4

$7.7 billion

  13.2

Pierce

  $5.9 billion

    12.1

$2.9 billion

    9.1

Snohomish

  $5.4 billion

    15.8

$2.7 billion

  10.6

Spokane

  $3.6 billion

    14.7

$1.8 billion

    9.5

Clark

  $2.9 billion

    15.6

$1.3 billion

  11.6

Thurston

  $1.9 billion

    10.9

$959 million

    7.9

Kitsap

  $1.6 billion

    11.1

$827 million

  10.0

Benton

  $1.4 billion

    14.5

$730 million

  11.2

Yakima

  $1.3 billion

    11.2

$672 million

    9.4

Whatcom

  $1.5 billion

    13.1

$658 million

    9.3

 

City

Taxable retail sales

Percent change

Retail trade

Percent change

Seattle

$8.0 billion

     21.3

$2.5 billion

 13.8

Bellevue

$2.4 billion

     26.6

$1.0 billion

 19.8

Tacoma

$1.7 billion

     12.8

$855 million

   9.7

Spokane City

$1.8 billion

     19.1

$807 million

 11.6

Vancouver

$1.6 billion

     22.1

$694 million

 17.5

Everett

$989 million

     18.9

$450 million

 11.6

Renton

$957 million

     26.4

$500 million

 19.4

Puyallup

$807 million

     11.8

$521 million

   7.2

Kennewick

$710 million

     12.1

$424 million

 12.2

Pasco

$493 million

     12.1

$270 million

   8.5

 

Compare taxable retail sales numbers for third quarter 2021 and previous years by checking out the “Retail sales for cities and counties” page on our website.

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 for innovation and quality customer service. Revenue administers nearly 60 categories of taxes that help fund education, social services, health care, corrections, public safety, natural resource conservation and other important services Washington residents count on.