Published May 2002

Auto sales, repair enjoyed growth during end of 2001

Herald Business Journal Staff

Snohomish County retail trade grew faster than the state average last winter, with about 60 percent of the increase due to a jump in automobile sales, state figures show.

County retailers did $1.24 billion worth of business during the fourth quarter of 2001, an increase of $55.7 million, or 4.7 percent, over the same quarter of the previous year, according to recently released figures from the Washington Department of Revenue.

By retail sector, Snohomish County’s increase largely was due to a surge in fourth-quarter new and used auto sales, which jumped about $33.5 million, or more than 15 percent.

More than 5,200 new cars were registered by residents of Snohomish and Island counties during the quarter, according to the Washington Department of Licensing. That was an increase of more than 8 percent over the same period of 2000. The figure does not necessarily match the number of cars sold here, a licensing department official said — cars sold here could have been registered elsewhere.

Manufacturers began instituting zero-percent financing on new cars shortly after Sept. 11, said Doug Lauer, the Used Car Manager for Dwayne Lane’s Chrysler-Plymouth-Jeep in Everett.

As a result, “it was busier than heck for the rest of the year,” he said. “A lot of people bought new cars in that period.”

Used-car sales were up, too, he said.

Although most other retail categories remained flat, another vehicle-related sector, auto repair, also saw an increase of 18 percent, to $61.2 million, according to the Department of Revenue figures.

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