Retail sales up across the state in 2017

Washington state retail figures for the third quarter of 2017 were released Feb. 21 and show an increase in year-over-year sales.

The report was released by the state Department of Revenue and showed sales increased in 2017 by 7.3 over 2016, reaching $41.3 billion.

Redmond saw a 14.7 percent increase year-over-year during the third quarter for a total of $816 million in all taxable retail sales revenue.

Of this, $233 million was retail trade, accounting for a 9.4 percent increase.

Bart Phillips is the CEO of OneRedmond, which is a public-private economic development organization.

“The economy is doing very, very well and these numbers are just a reflection of that,” he said.

According to the report, summer sales of new and used vehicles and construction growth boosted the retail sales.

Phillips said construction in the city has been doing well as thousands of housing units and large commercial developments are being created.

This has driven retail sales related to construction over the last year.

“I would expect to continue to see them being strong going forward,” he said.

Retail trade, a subset of all taxable retail sales, increased by 6.6 percent for a total of $17.4 billion.

The third quarter is defined as ranging from July to September.

In 2017 during the third quarter, construction rose by 9.7 percent to $8.5 billion, taxable retail sales for auto dealers increased 5.5 percent to $3.5 billion.

Internet commerce and mail order sales increased 18.8 percent to $788 million, while drug stores and lawn and garden suppliers also saw increases.

King County performed the best, with $16.6 billion in total taxable retail sales, followed by Pierce County with $4.2 billion, Snohomish County with $3.8 billion and Spokane with $2.6 billion.

Broken down by city, Seattle had the most taxable retail sales revenue collected at $6.9 billion, followed by Bellevue at $1.9 billion and Tacoma at $1.4 billion.

However, Phillips expects Redmond’s economy will continue to grow as well.

“There are new businesses opening and the new structures that are being constructed, most of them have retail in the first floor,” he said.

Wendy Novak is the CEO of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Western Washington, which represents some 350 members from a variety of fields.

She said of the members she’s talked with there is a large backlog of work indicating a construction boom.

“They’re busier than they’ve been in many, many years,” Novak said.

The biggest challenge for her members is a lack of workers.

During the Recession, Novak said many older workers retired and recruitment hasn’t kept pace.

Because of this, there are 500,000 open positions and if federal infrastructure plans are approved by the Trump administration, they could require up to 1.5 million new workers.

“Everyone of them I talked to, it’s not just construction, it’s every industry is looking for workers,” she said.

Novak credited this to population growth in the Northwest, quality of life and multiple tech companies in the region.

She also expects the boom to continue.


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