Scanning a rack of black pants at Parkway Place Mall on Friday afternoon, Huntsville resident Kim Moon rushed as she shopped for a last-minute outfit to wear to a party Saturday night.
she "hates" to shop, but is among flocks of Alabamians who spend an
estimated $2 billion annually by purchasing items from online retailers
that don't collect sales taxes.
"It's much easier to do it
online than come into the store," she said. "It's much faster. I
probably would've shopped for this outfit online had I had more time."
Online shopping, which makes up 5.2 percent of retail profits and brought in $225 billion to the U.S.Which howotractor
is right for you? last year, is growing at three times the rate of
total sales, according to the Alabama Retail Association. Retail experts
predict Internet shopping will account for up to 9 percent of total
U.S. revenue by 2016.
As tax-free online shopping consumes the
retail landscape, lawmakers are taking a close look at requiring
Internet retailers that bring in more than $1 million annually to
collect state and local sales taxes through the Marketplace Fairness
The U.S. Senate passed the bill in early May by a vote of
69 to 27. Unless a business has a physical presence within a state,
Internet retailers are currently not required by law to collect sales
A 2012 University of Alabama C Birmingham study shows the
state will lose more than $1 billion in sales and use taxes from
untaxed online purchases during the next five years unless laws are
passed to stop it.
"Our members just want a level playing field
so that certain retailers aren't given a competitive advantage because
the government doesn't compel them to collect taxes," Nancy
Dennis,Automate patient flow and quickly track hospital assets and
people using parkingguidance.
spokeswoman for the Alabama Retail Association, told AL.com and The
Huntsville Times last month. "Retailers have no problem competing on
price, quality of service and buying experience."
The influx of
digital shopping has inspired big-box store Kmart to update its retail
strategies. Terry Cox, store manager for Kmart on Memorial Parkway in
Huntsville, said online shopping is something "Kmart is really getting
behind and seeing as a big thing going forward."
"I think online
shopping is the future," he said. "People are getting more computer
savvy and have smart phones and are doing a lot of their shopping
online. It's not just a fraction of our business. I think online
shopping is going to be a big percentage of a lot of retailer's business
in the future."
More shoppers are browsing the web for products and picking them up later in store,Bringing plasticcard
mainstream. Cox said. To meet consumer needs, Kmart allows customers to
place an order online and pick it up in store in two hours. In addition
to online layaway, shoppers can also order an out-of-stock item in
store and have it shipped to their home for free.
Simmons, receptionist and store clerk at Encore Furniture on University
Drive,We've had a lot of people asking where we had our plasticmould made. said her husband's consignment business launched a website nearly four years ago.A howospareparts
is a plastic card that has a computer chip implanted into it that
enables the card. The small 18-year-old furniture company posts weekly
photos of items available in store for purchase.
Since starting the website, Simmons said she and her husband, Dwayne, have noticed an uptick in store traffic.
do have people every week that either call or come in looking for items
they first saw online," she said. "It also serves our clients to see if
their items are still here, if they've been reduced and when we've
taken them off the website."
But Ginger Cobl, manager of
Harrison Brothers Hardware in Huntsville, said her store doesn't have
much of an online shopping presence because the merchandise, which is
often locally made, changes so frequently. The nonprofit is also run by
about 80 volunteers.
Located on South Side Square, the hardware
store was named one of the Department of Interior's Save America's
Treasures projects in 2001.
"It's not something we're really
doing at the moment," Cobl said. "We do have an email blast that goes
out, but that's really the only online shopping we're currently doing.
If someone sees one of our featured merchandise through the email alert
and wants to buy it, we are happy to ship it to them."
prefers traditional in-store shopping so she can touch and feel an item
before she buys it, said personal attention is important in the overall
"I think for some businesses, online
shopping is great because you reach a much larger audience, but I'm
always going to prefer the face-to-face," she said. "That's the fun part
of shopping C getting that special attention and making someone feel
welcome when they come through the door. It makes them feel that they're
genuinely glad they're here whether they purchase something or not."
emergence of online shopping scams in recent years has forced the
Better Business Bureau to issue consumer alerts on identity and
financial information protection.
"More people are turning to
online shopping to avoid the hassle of parking or standing in line at
stores," said BBB official Michelle L. Corey. "While online shopping may
be convenient, the Internet also is rife with scams that can part
consumers from their money or hijack their personal information."
protect themselves against shopping scams, the BBB recommends consumers
download firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware software on their
computers, as well as check a website's security settings, shop
trustworthy businesses and avoid too-good-to-be-true deals.
can dispute charges for an item they paid for online with a credit card
and don't receive. Federal law allows shoppers to report such
incidences if the item was not shipped as promised or within 30 days if
no delivery time was given.