Last year was the best Doug Overturf has seen for car sales.
The owner of Overturf Volkswagen Audi Kia in Kennewick said the number of new car sales especially grew, in part because more cars were available from manufacturers.
Kennewick and Pasco saw double-digit growth in new and used car sales last year, according to data recently released by the state Department of Revenue.
Auto sales helped increase Kennewick's total taxable retail sales to $1.6 billion in 2012, nearly 5 percent more than in 2011. Pasco's total taxable retail sales grew by about 3 percent to $861 million.
Richland, however, saw a drop of about 5 percent to $903.7 million in 2012. Part of that drop appears to be from a decrease in construction-related sales.
Benton County saw taxable retail sales stay about the same in 2012 compared to the previous year, at about $2.9 billion. Franklin County saw a 3 percent increase to $1 billion.
Kennewick's auto sales were up by more than 11 percent to $180.6 million, while Pasco's auto sales skyrocketed by more than 61 percent to $143.9 million, according to the data. Richland's auto sales growth was at 2 percent, with about $37.3 million.
More Tri-Citians were looking for new cars and factories had pretty much caught up with demand, Overturf said. Still, there were some models last year he couldn't get enough of.
SUVs from Kia and Audi are in demand, he said.
"It's getting back to a buyers' market in some cases," Overturf said.
McCurley Integrity Dealerships in the Tri-Cities saw sales increase about 11 percent in 2012 compared to 2011, said Henry Field, executive general manager for McCurley Integrity Dealerships.
"Consumers are gaining confidence as the national economy starts to pick up," he said.
Sales of Honda vehicles were especially strong, Field said.
Other areas seeing sales growth in the Tri-Cities included apparel and accessories, and restaurants.
Kennewick and Pasco saw growth in construction-related sales, with Pasco up by about 2 percent to nearly $100 million and Kennewick growth at 18 percent with $152 million.
Richland's construction-related sales dropped by 22 percent to $128.6 million.
Richland did see the value of construction projects permitted in the city drop in 2012 when compared to the previous year, said Rick Simon, Richland's development services manager. Last year, about $151 million worth of construction projects were permitted, compared to $189 million in 2011.
The permitting value does not reflect actual sales cost, he said.
Total taxable retail sales for area counties in 2012 were: Adams County, down almost 2 percent to $244 million; Columbia County, up almost 25 percent to $70 million; Grant County, up almost 7 percent to $1.6 billion; Walla Walla County, gain of almost 9 percent to $745 million; and Yakima County, growth of about 7 percent to almost $3 billion.
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-- Kristi Pihl: 582-1512; email@example.com