Over $3.8 billion in taxable retail sales occurred in Yakima County during 2017 – an all-time high for the County. (See historical retail sales trends in Yakima County here).
Taxable retail sales represent one of the most important measures of the size and changes in a local economy. This measure often serves as a key proxy of total county economic activity, since consumption spending forms the largest part of any economy. The level and growth rate of retail sales gives economic development agencies and groups throughout the county a sense of how well the economy is doing.
Pre-recession in 2008 taxable retail sales totaled only $2.9 meaning sales in the County have grown by 31% in the past decade. Although spending is strong in the current economy, this increase is also due to a number of new retail store openings in the Valley including a Wal-Mart, Cabela’s, and multiple developments at Rainer Square, and South First in Yakima.
What these new store openings mean is that more spending happens locally instead of outside of the County in places like Seattle, or Tri-Cities. The numbers back this up. In 2008 the per capita retail sales in the County was $12,522 per person. In 2017 it had grown 23% to $15,383 per person.
Spending locally matters because taxable retail sales offer critical support to local city government. Retail sales tax collections typically make up the largest share of revenues to cities so every time we buy something in our community we are supporting our police, fire, parks, and other services provided by our local government.