It’s High Time Web Sales Were Taxed
According to Technopedia, “showrooming” is when a shopper visits a store to check out a product, but then purchases the product online from home. This occurs because, while many people still prefer seeing and touching the merchandise they buy, many items are available at lower prices through online vendors. As such, local stores essentially become showrooms for online shoppers.
Someone once told me the story of a woman who owned a bookstore in a small, upmarket commuter town in Bucks County, Pa. She worked 12 hours a day for years to keep the place going—author lectures and book signings, children’s reading programs, book fairs at local schools, etc. Life for her was a nightmare in the face of vicious price competition from deep discounters Amazon.com, Borders and Barnes & Noble. At the time, the ultimate bookstore killer—e-books—were maybe a gleam in Jeff Bezos’ eye.
One afternoon while an author was at the signing table, the owner wandered along the line of customers with books waiting to get an autograph and exchange a word or two with the author. As she eased down the line the she overheard one woman say to another woman, “Actually I bought my copy from Amazon. I couldn’t resist the price.”
This was the final fist in the gut.
The store closed the following week.
• The town (no author lectures and book signings).
• The children (no more after-school reading programs).
• The schools (no more book fairs).
• Adult readers (no knowledgeable sales people to discuss books, plus the nearest bookstore—Barnes & Noble—was 12.9 miles away).
• A team of knowledgeable, literate sales personnel was thrown out of work.
• The state of Pennsylvania lost out on: 1) 6 percent state sales tax on the book purchased from Amazon, say $1.50 on a $30 book, and 2) unemployment insurance for the laid-off workers.