Each year, more and more of retail sales are made over the Internet. It took a few years for many of the popular Retail Stores, with a nearby physical presence, to jump on the bandwagon–as Amazon.COM was eating their lunch. But, they did.
Just think, since an on-line company does’t have to stock the merchandise at multiple locations, it is much more cost-effective to just ship the products from one, or a few, locations. Retail stores began to offer customers the ability to return on-line purchases, made on their web sites, at their local physical locations. Amazon responded by offering special discounts on purchases made from mobile devices (only), assumedly when people were comparison-shopping in the competitors’ physical stores.
The one major advantage that on-line shopping has had was that State Sales Taxes originally were not collected. Then, several states passed legislation whereby stores, having a physical presence in that state, must collect the appropriate Sales Tax. Macy’s, Barnes & Noble, Victoria’s Secret, etc. cried foul. Well, now the collection of ALL State Sales Taxes are being considered on Capital Hill. The Senate might vote this week on what is called the Marketplace Fairness Act.
Many of the items purchased in on-line companies, that do not have physical locations, are actually checked-out, tried-on for fit, reviewed (books or music), etc. in the local retail stores, with the actual purchase being made through on-line (only) stores. Shouldn’t the local stores be compensated for their efforts and their commitment–like by a purchase?
Let’s look at books, since that was one of the product lines where stores like Amazon first grabbed the public’s attention. When our children were young, we often took them to a local book store, which allowed people–and lots of children–to sit on the floor (by the shelves) or on chairs that were provided and read. That store helped our children immensely to gain a love for books–and reading. The employees were book-lovers, who could suggest likely choices to read, and the store displayed new or appropriate editions. There was never any pressure to buy. But…that was where we did buy books.
Besides the ability to “test-drive”, if you will, a new book, a pair of slacks, a car, the retail stores employ your friends and neighbors. They put tax money back into the local community, their employees patronize local stores and restaurants and, indirectly, help maintain property values. Shipping the benefits of your on-line purchases off to some remote mega-factory location will do nothing for your quality of life.
As a young boy, there was no such thing as the Internet or Big-Box Stores. There was the small grocery store down-the-street, the nearby stationery store, family-owned restaurants, etc. I went to school with some of their children, played ball with their grandsons, etc. They were local, businesses were passed from generation-to-generation, etc. Besides, if there was ever a problem with a product or service, you were talking to the source. Not someone offering a nonsensical “our policy” response.
Members of Congress are already choosing sides on this issue. And, as always, the Naysayers are claiming that they are protecting small businesses and jobs. Haven’t we heard this before? Perhaps the exemption for truly small business can be increased; however, and those that took advantage of the Golden Goose for so long must now realize that that bird has flown the coop. Otherwise, if the State Sales Taxes do not become universal, the Taxpayers bares the burden–YOU!
So, whatever side you take on the Issue, be sure of the potential impact on your community. And, do let your Senators and Representative know your views.