LONG BEACH — It takes months to count all the receipts but the numbers are in: 2018 was a banner year for many parts of Pacific County’s overall economy, which grew 10 percent over 2017.
Nearly every variety of “Main Street” retailer expanded sales last year. Growth in sales of goods to consumers between 2018 and 2017 was 13 percent overall, to $95.5 million. Comparing 2018 to the pre-recession benchmark year of 2008 — which many long considered to be the high-water mark for the local economy — shows an even more impressive 33 percent increase.
Going beyond traditional retailers and looking at the full range of businesses tracked in the Washington State Department of Revenue’s closely watched quarterly sales report shows the county’s broadest economic total exceeded $289.3 million in 2018, up from $263.3 million in 2017 and $233.5 million in 2008. These overall figures include not just retailing, but everything from wholesaling to manufacturing ad contracting.
Despite there being very little razor-clam digging — a popular outdoor activity that pulls in millions of visitor dollars — the tourist-dependent accommodations and food services sectors counted $53,348,000 in 2018 receipts, up about 5.4 percent over 2017 and more than 62 percent better than 2008.
Building construction, which took a huge hit in the Great Recession, continued its climb back in 2018, reaching $24 million, more than a 16 percent improvement from 2017. Building construction still has a long way to go to get back to the $44.6 million record set in 2008. However, that was a time that saw some contractors from outside the area come to Pacific County to make a quick buck.
Special trade contractors — such as masons, electricians, painters and plumbers — reported $31.1 million in 2018 business, 31 percent more than 2017. It was even an improvement over 2008, when the total was $25.5 million.
Building materials — the portion of retail trade most closely tied to home construction and remodeling — came to nearly $17.3 million in 2018, 7 percent better than 2017 and about 6 percent more than 2008.
Annual changes in other retail categories:
• Motor vehicles and parts +7.6 percent
• Furniture and home furnishings +50 percent
• Electronics and appliances +23.3 percent
• Food and beverage stores +5.6 percent
• Drug/health stores +7.8 percent
• Gas stations/conveniences stores +12.1 percent
• Apparel and accessories +13 percent
• Sporting goods, toys, books +8.2 percent
• General merchandise stores +8.1 percent
The single exception in the upward trend for retailers was the e-commerce and mail order sector, which dropped nearly 55 percent between 2017 and 2018 following years of impressive gains. This may have resulted from a shift of some sellers into the miscellaneous category of retailing, which grew by 57 percent, from about $14.3 million in 2017 to $22.4 million in 2018.
Drilling down into the numbers shows 2018 was an especially good year in the city of Long Beach, which saw an overall gain of 16.7 percent compared to 2017, adding more than $10 million in sales to a 2018 total of $70.1 million.
Long Beach retailers sold nearly 25 percent more goods in 2018 than 2017.
Accommodations and food services in Long Beach expanded their bottom line by 7.3 percent.
Ilwaco’s overall 2018 sales total was almost $21.3 million, a gain of nearly 21 percent.
Retailers in Ilwaco sold about 9 percent more in total receipts in 2018, arriving at an annual total of $6.35 million.
Accommodations and food services (which includes drinking places) dropped to about $1.9 million in 2018, a 6.7 percent decline. The Sea Hag, a venerable tavern, didn’t operate in 2018.
The county’s most populous incorporated town, Raymond, grew its economy by 12.3 percent in 2018, to a total of about $41.3 million.
Raymond retailers reported about 12 percent more sales in 2018 than in 2017.
Raymond has little in the way of lodgings, but food service receipts grew by about 2 percent.
The county seat’s overall taxable sales grew by 7.9 percent in 2018, totaling $20.15 million.
However, South Bend’s retailers experienced about a 1 percent drop in total value of sales between 2017 and 2018.
The town’s small number of restaurants, taverns and lodgings reported 8.2 percent higher receipts in 2018, to a total of $1.86 million.
Most of Pacific County is outside its four incorporated cities. Towns in the unincorporated area include Ocean Park, Surfside, Chinook, Naselle, Bay Center, Menlo and Tokeland, among others. Total taxable sales in this area came to about $136.5 million in 2018, a 4.9 percent gain from 2017.
Retailers in the county’s unincorporated area reported $44.2 million in 2018 sales, a 12 percent increase. Restaurants and lodging places were up 4.5 percent in 2018, to about $14.1 million.
Overall taxable sales in Washington state reached $919.1 billion in 2018, a slightly better than 10 percent increase and about on par with Pacific County’s gain.
The retail sector reported a 9.2 percent gain statewide in 2018, to a total of about $160.2 billion.