Thornebrook Gallery advocates for all North Central Florida businesses. Savor shopping “offline” at places you love, from people you trust in businesses that have been cornerstones of the community for decades.
While online shopping may give people an easy way to have gifts shipped right to their doors, this poses a problem for local retailers. GTN’s Mayci McLeod takes a look at one issue facing many Florida businesses this holiday season.
The holidays are a vital time for retailers.
David Arrighi, Owner of Thornebrook Gallery, says, “December is usually the equivalent of three normal months and it’s all squashed into about three weeks.”
And online marketplaces are no different. Internet sales are increasing by about 15-20% every year.
Steve Kirn, Executive Director of the Miller Center for Retail Education and Research, says, “Clearly it’s going to be a major factor and the in store sales are not growing at nearly the same rate.”
Brick and mortar retailers are expanding their web presence.
Arrighi says, “I have a website, I also have a link to a Facebook page where we have items online.”
Regardless of Internet presence local store owners say Florida sales tax puts them at a disadvantage when it comes to online sales.
Arrighi says, “Anytime you put someone at a 6% disadvantage for no reason, then yes, it’s going to be a concern. And the fact that our legislators can’t find a way to collect sales tax from online merchants is ludicrous.”
Steve Kirn agrees. He expects the 6% sales tax will soon be applied to all online sales for Florida to level the playing field. And local businesses aren’t in the fight alone.
Kirn says, “I don’t think that the large retailers who have a physical presence who are already required to pay the sales tax are going to put up with people going around them. So, sure, are we going to pay a little bit more? Yeah. But that’s how the state supports itself.”
He adds, state legislators will also back the universal tax once they realize how much potential revenue is available by taxing online retailers. Kirn says he recommends shopping locally not only to boost the local economy, but to avoid the dangers of scams and fraud which can come with online shopping.