Economy puts pinch on county retail sales

Taxable retail sales in Washington state's Thurston County dropped nearly 6 percent in the second quarter compared with 2007, another blow to South Sound's economy at a time when some local governments are considering layoffs to offset lost revenue.

Signs of a slower economy appeared in the first quarter of the year, when the county's taxable retail sales fell 1.3 percent, according to state Department of Revenue data. It was the first decline in 13 years.

In the second quarter, taxable retail sales in the county fell 5.61 percent to $1.01 billion from $1.07 billion in the same period in 2007.

Big items

Sales of "big-ticket" items such as cars, recreational vehicles and boats were down in the county and statewide, said Department of Revenue spokesman Mike Gowrylow.

The same was true of furniture, building materials and gardening equipment, Gowrylow said.

"Definitely car sales were very, very weak," he said.

In Olympia, home to the Olympia Auto Mall, taxable retail sales generated by motor vehicle and parts dealers fell 15.6 percent and building materials fell 22.8 percent, the second-quarter data show.

A spokeswoman for the auto mall could not be reached.

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