Spokane Journal of Business

Retail sales took jump last year

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Taxable retail sales in Spokane County rose a healthy 6.7 percent last year to $5.6 billion, outpacing gains in 1999, when they rose 6.3 percent to $5.2 billion.

Within the city of Spokane, taxable sales climbed 6.1 percent last year to $3.2 billion, also improving on 1999, when they gained 5.9 percent to total slightly more than $3 billion.

Last years gains were very reflective of how solid the economy was in 2000, Avista Corp. economist Randy Barcus says. I just wish it was as solid today. The caution flag is up.

Recent work-force cutbacks here show softness, Barcus says. Still, he says, last years taxable-sales gains outpaced those in the rest of the U.S. I assume thats going to continue to happen for the next couple of years.

In 1998, taxable sales increased 3.1 percent in Spokane County and just 2 percent in the city of Spokane. The citys sales are included in the county total.

Phil Kuharski, a Spokane-area economic analyst, says that sales to contractors were extremely strong both last year and in 1999 and have been pivotal in the upsurge.

Last year, such sales soared 18.9 percent in Spokane County, to $801.6 million, up from $674.4 million in 1999. Thats nearly 15 percent of all sales. In the city of Spokane, they totaled $371 million last year, up from $316.8 million in 1999, for a 17.1 percent jump. In 1999, contracting sales skyrocketed by 32 percent in the city of Spokane and shot up by 22.5 percent in Spokane County.

The big story is this commercial and business construction has been real important to the sales activity, Kuharski says.

  • Richard Ripley

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