Many tourists make summer merry for Pacific County businesses

Loyalty Days in Long Beach and Ocean Park in May is an early event in the annual tourist calendar.

LONG BEACH — Although held down by weakness in construction, Pacific County’s economy in the summer of 2015 otherwise recorded some of its best results since the Great Recession.

A broad measure of how well county businesses performed found $75.4 million in sales in July, August and September last year, a gain of six-tenths of a percent over summer 2014, according to the latest report by the Washington State Department of Revenue. The state as a whole saw a 7.8 percent improvement.

Figures for the retail trade industry, which is a subset of all taxable retail sales made in the state, showed a statewide 5.8 percent increase over the same time period in 2014. In Pacific County, retailers saw a 4.8 percent gain, to $21.6 million for the summer.

This result for local retailers was their best since summer 2008, when the total was a record $21.9 million.

It was an even better summer for two business types closely linked to tourism — accommodations; and restaurants, food services and drinking places. Purveyors of food and drink had their best summer ever, ringing up over $9.7 million in receipts, up 6.6 percent from 2014. Lodgings were up about 10.5 percent from the previous summer to a total of nearly $8.5 million.

This record total of about $18.2 million for these two tourist-dependent economic sectors was 34 percent better than in the pre-recession summer of 2007.

Some other types of business — most notably construction — did less well.

Construction of all types totaled just over $12 million, down from $17.8 million in 2014. The drop partially reflects the conclusion of renovations at Ilwaco High School’s Black Lake campus. Summer 2007 was the apex for construction in the county — $22.7 million.

Looking at just building construction — highway work and subcontracting is counted separately — last summer saw $4.1 million in work, down from $10.4 million in summer 2014. Summer 2010 was the worst recent total, only $3.1, and summer 2008 was best, $11 million.

Another large business sector — wholesale trade — had a good summer last year, with a record total of $4.9 million in sales, up from $4.1 million in 2014.

The state tracks how well different types of retailers do. Most in Pacific County benefited from last summer’s good weather and robust tourist traffic, along with a generally satisfactory economy.

• Sellers of motor vehicles and parts did 16 percent better in summer 2015 than in 2014, with total sales of more than $1.2 million.

• Building materials and gardening sales were up 4 percent, to nearly $4.5 million.

• Sales by drug/health stores rose 85 percent, to nearly $1 million last summer.

• Apparel and accessory sales more than doubled, increasing 181 percent to about $924,000.

• General merchandise stores saw their sales rise 6.7 percent, to $1.6 million.

• E-commerce and mail order continued its growth spurt in the county, increasing 27.6 percent, to more than $1.3 million.

• The catch-all category of miscellaneous retailing increased about 9 percent, to about 3.33 million.

Not all kinds of retailers prospered last summer. Businesses selling furniture saw a drop to about $450,000, compared to $1.1 million in 2014. Sporting goods, electronics/appliances, and gas stations/convenience stores were all down by smaller percentages. Sales by food and beverage stores were about unchanged from the prior summer, with a total of $3.9 million.