Tri-City businesses see uptick in sales

Kristi Pihl, Tri-City HeraldAugust 3, 2013 

Tri-City businesses are seeing Tri-Citians lay down more money on everything from new and used vehicles to clothing.

And the area's construction industry is also seeing sizable gains, according to data recently released by the state Department of Revenue.

Growth in construction-related sales, retail sales and accommodation and food services helped lift the Tri-Cities' total taxable retail sales during the first quarter of 2013 when compared to the same months last year, according to the data.

Pasco experienced the steepest climb of the Tri-Cities with $212.3 million in total taxable sales, a nearly 11 percent gain from January through April 2012.

Kennewick kept its hold on the largest chunk of the Tri-Cities' total taxable retail sales, at $385.9 million, a 5 percent improvement from the same period last year.

And Richland grew by 8 percent to $218.5 million during the first quarter of this year.

Both Benton and Franklin counties overall saw a gain of about 8 percent during the first three months of this year when compared to the same time in 2012, bringing Benton County up to $715.4 million and Franklin County to $252.7 million in total taxable retail sales.

While fewer new homes were permitted during the first three months of this year, the value of those homes was up slightly, according to data from the Home Builders Association of Tri-Cities.

And the value of all the projects permitted in Benton and Franklin counties during the first three months was up by 14 percent, to $139.2 million, according to the association.

Construction-related sales spiked the most in Pasco and Richland, up about 32 percent during the first quarter of this year. Pasco reached $23 million while Richland grew to $35.8 million. And Kennewick added 19 percent to reach $35.7 million during the first three months of this year.

Meanwhile, both Richland and Kennewick are seeing revenue from hotels and motels grow, said Kris Watkins, president & CEO of the Tri-Cities Visitor & Convention Bureau.

Richland was up by about 4.9 percent, and Kennewick saw a growth of 2.3 percent through June of this year. Pasco, however, was down by about 2.2 percent, she said.

The Tri-Cities is seeing sports group and convention business continue to grow, Watkins said. So far, the Tri-Cities is up 3 percent on the total number of guest rooms sold compared to the same time last year. Part of the reason Richland is seeing growth is because the city was the hardest hit when the federal stimulus funding ended, cutting into government travel during 2012, Watkins said.

TownePlace Suites by Marriott also opened with 90 guest rooms in Richland during the first three months of this year, she said.

Southridge, the Carousel of Dreams, Red Mountain, the Three Rivers Convention Center and other community development continues to add to the reasons people visit the Tri-Cities as well as convincing visitors to stay longer, said Kim Shugart, the bureau's senior vice president.

All three cities saw their portions of retail trade sales grow, with Pasco again scooping up the largest gain of nearly 14 percent, to about $110.2 million.

Kennewick kept its retail trade lead with a nearly 7 percent growth to $235.8 million. Richland saw a gain of 5 percent to about $97.5 million.

Total taxable sales for area counties for first quarter 2013: Adams County, a 5 percent gain to $57.2 million; Columbia County, down nearly 50 percent to $14.6 million; Grant County, growth of 24 percent to about $393.7 million; Walla Walla County, up 4 percent to $164.1 million; Yakima County, add 9 percent to $714.3 million.

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