Border communities such as Blaine and Sumas are faring considerably well in retail trade sales compared to other Whatcom County cities, according to figures recently released by the Washington State Department of Revenue (DOR).
According to a fourth quarter retail sales report released by the DOR, Blaine reported $11 million in retail trade sales, a 30.8 percent increase since the same period in 2009, and Sumas reported $2.2 million, a 27 percent increase.
In comparison, Ferndale and Bellingham had approximate increases of 7 percent in retail trade sales. The category exclusively focuses on retail items sold in stores.
Retail sales overall for Whatcom County were up 2.1 percent during the fourth quarter of 2010, according to the report.
Blaine city finance director Jeffery Lazenby said although the value of the Candian dollar has increased, the boost in revenues are likely a result of a state-wide change in where sales tax is collected, rather than an increase in Canadian spending here.
“The greatest factor is the point of delivery tax change,” he said. “That has certainly helped retail trade, but it has also helped wholesale, transportation and warehousing.”
But while businesses reported strong sales in e-commerce, transportation and warehousing, some sectors experienced a significant drop. Blaine construction receipts totalled $4.2 million at the end of 2010 as opposed to $9.3 million at the end of 2009–a 54 percent drop.
Lazenby said this is a result of the completion of several large construction projects, such as the Lighthouse Point Water Reclamation Facility, which opened last summer.
Other retail sectors that experienced a decline included professional services (-67 percent); agents and brokers (-39 percent); and sporting goods (-41 percent).