Retail sales fall creates problems

Taxable retail sales declined 14 percent to $25 billion during the second quarter of 2009 compared to the same period in 2008, the Washington State Department of Revenue reported Friday.

The April-through-June sales decline is the largest one on record. Sales dropped 12.8 percent during the first quarter of 2009, and 10.8 percent during the fourth quarter of 2008, the second- and third-largest declines since reliable records have been kept beginning in 1974.

Retail trade, a component of all taxable retail sales that includes retailers but excludes other industries such as services and construction, dropped 10.7 percent to $11.1 billion.

Among the largest industries, retail sales from construction dropped 26 percent to $4.3 billion; motor vehicle and parts dropped 21 percent to $2.3 billion; accommodations and food services dropped 5.2 percent to $2.7 billion; general merchandise stores declined 0.4 percent to $1.6 billion, the retail component of wholesale trade declined 18.8 percent to $1.9 billion, miscellaneous retailers dropped 17.3 percent to $1.2 billion, information services dropped 4.1 percent to $1.2 billion, and building materials, garden equipment and supplies dropped 11.5 percent to $1.3 billion.

Taxable retail sales and retail trade by county and city, and a breakdown of sales statewide by industries are available at

Results for all counties and selected cities, including breakdowns of sales by industry sector, are available at