Between 1994 and 2014, Thurston County jurisdictions have shown overall growth in taxable retail sales (when adjusted for inflation). Inflation-adjusted taxable retail sales peaked in 2007, before the recession. In 2015, sales were almost back to 2007 levels.
The majority of taxable retail sales spending is in the northern portion of the county:
80% of sales occurred in Lacey, Olympia, or Tumwater
5% of sales occurred in Bucoda, Rainier, Tenino, or Yelm
15% of sales occurred in unincorporated Thurston County
Olympia had the highest amount of taxable retail sales per capita ($38,555 per person), followed by Tumwater, Lacey, and Yelm. Bucoda had the lowest amount of taxable retail sales per capita ($2,144 per person) or less than 6% 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. Property tax increases are limited to 1% per year, and in many years this increase does not provided 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.