Retailers Fight Showrooming
Bjorn Dybdahl, president of Bjorn’s Audio and Video, San Antonio, agrees. “I can handle competition on the Internet if we’re all on the same footing,” he said. “I’m looking forward to getting a final resolution on the sales tax issue.”
The “Marketplace Fairness Act” introduced in Congress last fall aims to level the playing field by allowing states to collect sales tax on goods sold there regardless of where the online retailer is located; a dozen states require online retailers to collect sales tax and legislation is pending in 10 others. Many feel the federal bill has a good chance of passing but not until next year at the earliest. “No politician is going to campaign with that issue during an election year,” said Martin Hartunian, president of ABC Warehouse, the Michigan-based chain with 43 stores.
Faced with the double-whammy of having to compete with online dealers who don’t collect sales tax plus an onslaught of smartphone wielding customers bent on getting the best possible deal, brick-and-mortar retailers have no choice but to bring on their best game or lose sales.