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Retail sales up 12% in first quarter 2021

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Sept. 1, 2021 – The first quarter of 2021 saw a rebound in taxable retail sales across the state over first quarter 2020, reaching $46 billion, thanks to strong sales in new and used automobiles and a healthy upswing in construction.

Retail trade, a subset of all taxable retail sales in the state, also increased 22.9% for a total of $20.9 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 first quarter 2021 compared to the same period (January-March) in 2020:

  • Construction increased 6.6% to $9.4 billion.
  • Taxable retail sales reported by new and used auto dealers rose 31.8% to $4 billion.
  • Building materials, garden equipment and supplies increased 27.3% to $2.2 billion.
  • Taxable retail sales in general merchandise stores grew by 13.6% to $2.9 billion.
  • Apparel and Accessories sales increased by 18.7% to $1 billion.

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

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

Find out more information about taxable retail sales in:

County

Taxable retail sales

Percent change

Retail trade

Percent change

King

  $16.9 billion

      2.3

$6.4 billion

  15.1

Pierce

  $  5.2 billion

    19.4

$2.7 billion

  29.4

Snohomish

  $  4.4 billion

    14.8

$2.3 billion

  23.2

Spokane

  $  3.1 billion

    18.5

$1.6 billion

  30.1

Clark

  $  2.4 billion

    20.9

$1.1 billion

  28.1

Thurston

  $  1.7 billion

    16.2

$877 million

  26.2

Kitsap

  $  1.4 billion

    16.5

$730 million

  24.3

Benton

  $  1.2 billion

    18.5

$668 million

  29.6

Yakima

  $  1.1 billion

    14.6

$607 million

  24.9

Whatcom

  $  1.2 billion

    15.6

$579 million

  19.2

 

City

Taxable retail sales

Percent change

Retail trade

Percent change

Seattle

$6.5 billion

     -4.1

$2.0 billion

   4.9

Bellevue

$2.0 billion

     -0.9

$831 million

 15.9

Tacoma

$1.5 billion

     14.9

$784 million

 26.5

Spokane City

$1.4 billion

     14.9

$735 million

 28.1

Vancouver

$1.3 billion

     19.5

$588 million

 25.2

Everett

$794 million

     12.4

$383 million

 20.2

Renton

$774 million

     15.2

$435 million

 26.9

Puyallup

$710 million

     19.3

$477 million

 21.5

Kennewick

$611 million

     16.1

$372 million

 24.8

Pasco

$425 million

       8.8

$245 million

 28.8

Compare taxable retail sales numbers for first quarter 2021 and previous years by checking out Retail sales for cities and counties information.

Check Revenue’s Statistics and Reports 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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