Inflation-adjusted taxable retail sales in 2016 ($4.91 billion) exceeded for the first time the peak set before the recession in 2007 ($4.58 billion). 2016 marked the forth consecutive year of growth since 2012. Overall, between 1994 and 2016 Thurston County jurisdictions have shown growth in taxable retail sales.
The majority of taxable retail sales spending is in the northern portion of the county:
80% of sales occurred in Lacey, Olympia, and Tumwater
5% of sales occurred in Bucoda, Rainier, Tenino, and Yelm
15% of sales occurred in unincorporated Thurston County
Olympia had the highest amount of taxable retail sales per capita ($40,598 per person), followed by Tumwater, Lacey, and Yelm. Bucoda had the lowest amount of taxable retail sales per capita ($2,107 per person) or about 5% of Olympia's total. The communities of Rainier and Tenino also fell below the county average.
Taxable Retail Sales
Residential and nonresidential purchases in Thurston County are measured by taxable retail sales. The measure shows changes in the overall amount of money spent within the county and depicts where purchases occurred. The amount of taxable retail sales is particularly important to local government finance, as taxable retail sales contribute to the sales tax collected by communities. Sales taxes help fund government services, such as public transportation and law enforcement.
In communities where sales tax revenue is low, residents are required to fund a greater proportion of the services cities provide through property taxes or other fees. State law limits property tax increases to 1% per year. In many years this increase does not provide enough extra revenue to keep pace with inflation. As a result, expanding businesses and sales is essential to provide stable funding for local governmental services and programs.