Statewide sales at record levels

Across the state of Washington, big gains in construction and new and used auto sales helped fuel a jump in taxable retail sales to a record $145.9 billion in 2016, a 7.8 percent increase over calendar year 2015.

Retail trade sales also showed an increase of 6 percent to $63.2 billion for 2016.

Taxable retail sales includes transactions subject to the retail sales tax, including sales by retailers, the construction industry, manufacturing and other sectors. Retail trade is a subset of all taxable retail sales in the state and includes sales of items such as clothing, furniture and automobiles, but excludes other industries, such as services and construction.

These figures were part of a quarterly report released by the Washington State Department of Revenue. The agency reports on a quarterly and annual basis the total taxable retail sales figures reported by businesses on their Washington tax returns. The agency uses Census Bureau classifications to report the sales revenues by sector.

Highlights of 2016 taxable retail and retail trade sales:

• Construction rose 14.4 percent to $28 billion.

• Taxable retail sales reported by new and used auto dealers increased 8.7 percent, reaching $12.9 billion.

• Lawn and garden supplies and equipment sales rose by 12.2 percent to $730 million.

• Drug and health stores’ sales rose 17.3 percent, reaching $2.6 billion.

• Taxable e-commerce and mail order sales increased 11.9 percent to $2.8 billion.*

Of the top 10 most populated counties in the state, King and Thurston counties enjoyed the largest overall taxable retail sales percentage increase. Renton and Spokane Valley saw the largest increase of the most populated cities.