Letter: The retail apocalypse is here

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  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    Jan. 8, 2018 9:10 p.m.

    Ben... two things here. First, is sales tax a reason you buy online. It almost is never, ever, a factor for me, unless it is a hugely expensive purchase. Only when the Tax is a huge contributor to cost do most people ever really calculate into their purchase. It's availability of products. And frankly, with the likes of Amazon, if its not available there, it like just isn't available.

    Second, I feel little to now sadness for the likes of Walmart taking it hard with this change. These big box shops destroyed small town downtown shopping districts, replacing owner run businesses, with minimum wage/low skill workers.

    Places like Amazon give small shops global reach. A huge percentage of Amazon sales are fulfilled by smaller outlets that are affiliates of Amazon.

    Is Amazon perfect... heck no. But I much prefer to give Amazon my money rather than Walmart, or Dollar General, or any of the other low wage retailers.

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    Jan. 8, 2018 5:47 p.m.

    @2 bits:

    I do all my grocery shopping in local stores. I want to personally select my produce. I frequently purchase home maintenance parts in the local big box home improvement store because I need to verify fit and functionality, I also need convenient returns when working a large project.

    In contrast, very rarely do I need auto parts, electronics, books, toys, household chemicals, etc today. I usually don't need to fit them first. And returns are rare.

    When it comes to de-junking a home, if I haven't used something in the last year, I have to question whether I really need to keep it around. If I haven't used it in the last 5 years....

    How is a local store any different? If I haven't needed one for several years, odds are I won't need it.

    Our grandparents did a lot of shopping via Sears or JC Penny catalogs. I did a lot shopping that way before St. George had large stores. I can still find items on the Sears or Lowes website I can't find in the store.

    If certain goods are more convenient to buy on-line, then there is no reason for stores devoted to those goods to exist. I'm not going to drive a horse-drawn carriage around just to keep buggy whip makers in business.

  • Impartial7 DRAPER, UT
    Jan. 8, 2018 4:00 p.m.

    @2bits;
    "We have no one to blame but ourselves when the retail district in out neighborhoods start closing. "

    Oh yes, we do. We can blame Utah governments. There are many boarded up stores in most of our towns. Stores like WalMart, Lowes and just recently, L.H. Miller. Why? Because nearby cities give them tax incentives (reductions and kickbacked taxes) to leave their cities for another. All the while eroding the overall tax base. It should be illegal to bribe a retailer to abandon their base to move for "free" taxpayer money. It is is many states where they can't canalize each other with tax dollars. But, that's the model in the "best managed state".

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Jan. 8, 2018 3:18 p.m.

    How long do you expect to have stores conveniently located in your neighborhood as more in your neighborhood do their shopping online (instead of spending their money in these local stores)?

    They won't be open for long. Be ready for boarded up windows and shuttered store fronts in your neighborhood in the future. They can't stay open if nobody shops there.

    If there's a business in my neighborhood I like or like having around... I make sure I spend my money there as often as possible. To insure they will stay in business.

    It makes me mad when I go to my favorite store or restaurant and find the "CLOSED" sign on the door. But the first person I have to be mad at is myself. For not frequenting the establishment enough for them to pay their bills, pay their employees, and stay in business.

    We have no one to blame but ourselves when the retail district in out neighborhoods start closing. They can only stay in business if we shop there.

    You will have to drive further and further to find an open store if this trend continues. Or shift to buying everything online and have it delivered. Including your groceries.

    Closing stores is natural consequence of this trend.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    Jan. 8, 2018 2:08 p.m.

    To "Impartial7" that is a different issue. That is an enforcement problem. It isn't a problem with a "fairness" tax not existing.

    Tell us, how would you impose a tax on goods shipped in from outside Utah that doesn't put a burden on companies outside of Utah. For instance, if I am in Vermont and I produce Maple Syrup and sell to people in Utah, how do you tax the people of Utah at the same time you don't make my costs go up to handle Utah taxes that I am not subject to?

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    Jan. 8, 2018 2:06 p.m.

    Utah sales tax is about 5% (a little higher where they are forced to support Trax). On most purchases sales tax is about equal to what shipping costs. Shipping must be paid for whether it shows up as an explicit line item or whether it is rolled into the original price so as to offer "free" shipping.

    Shipping one item to my home is far more costly than shipping 100 items to a local retail store that then then sells the items. Furthermore, Amazon is now collecting Utah sales tax. Has anyone materially altered their use of Amazon over the sales tax?

    Brick and mortar stores are hurting. But sales tax has nothing to do with it.

    On line offers better selection, better convenience, enough reviews to know the quality before I buy, intelligent answers to questions before I buy, and usually a price difference much larger than sales tax.

    Nor do I see that this is a problem.

    I grew up shopping remotely rather than in big stores. St. George had a JC Penny catalog store. With the unabridged catalog, we'd find what we needed, order, and it shipped to the catalog store. We didn't need 100 items on display.

    Big box replaced catalog ordering, and is now being replaced by on-line.

  • Impartial7 DRAPER, UT
    Jan. 8, 2018 12:57 p.m.

    @RedShirt;
    "When you fill out your Utah income tax forms, there is a line asking about purchases made out of state. If you purchase something out of state with the intent of using it here, you have to pay sales taxes on it."

    Yeah? And how many Utah Republican faithful do you believe are actually honest about that?
    Wealthy Utah Republicans (and Democrats) spend thousands on tax accountants and tax lawyers trying to figure out ways to avoid paying taxes. You actually think the little guy is going to voluntarily add to his tax burden?

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    Jan. 8, 2018 12:25 p.m.

    To "Impartial7" it sounds like a liberal because he wants to force things to be "fair".

    I would like to remind everybody that even when you purchase things online they are subject to sales tax. When you fill out your Utah income tax forms, there is a line asking about purchases made out of state. If you purchase something out of state with the intent of using it here, you have to pay sales taxes on it.

  • Impartial7 DRAPER, UT
    Jan. 8, 2018 9:28 a.m.

    Sounds like a Utah Republican. Eliminate my taxes for business and make homeowners and workers pay more to cover the shortfall. Good grief.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Jan. 8, 2018 7:18 a.m.

    I agree with the letter and the posts thus far...especially when it comes to price and availability of online items versus those in bricks and mortar shops.
    Unfortunately, those bricks and mortar shops are important pillars of our communities. Our retail sector is going to hollow out, and I'm not sure if anything will replace it.

  • ugottabkidn Sandy, UT
    Jan. 8, 2018 7:14 a.m.

    Times they are a changing and retailers are losing ground because of convienence not price, in general. Convenience means a lot to all of us until you need to return something. When the State figures out how, you’ll get those taxes you are subliminally asking for. You will never see the reduction of sales taxes from brick and mortar joints.

  • The Real Maverick Spanish Fork, UT
    Jan. 8, 2018 6:13 a.m.

    Why should we completely revamp our tax system and make it worse for the 99 percent because retail is struggling? As you explained in your letter, it’s far easier and quicker to just do the shopping from the comforts of your house. Shopping is just a few clicks away.

    How does increasing income taxes make online shopping more of a hassle? Or make in store retail shopping less of a hassle?

    Why do Utahns like propping up failing industries like coal and retail? Let it go man. It’s not our job to subsidize eastern and southern Utah likewise it’s not our job to subsidize retail.

  • J Thompson SPRINGVILLE, UT
    Jan. 7, 2018 10:46 p.m.

    The question is mostly why local retail stores think that their customers want to spend 35% or more more to buy from them than they spend on-line. For instance, a product that I buy several times a year costs $5.99 online. It’s advertised at $9.99 on a local retailer’s website, but the actual price is $12.99 because the price list “needs updating”, according to the sales clerk who was so disinterested that he never looked up from his cell phone.

    When we’re buying commodities why pay more than twice the price to a store that can’t even hire a curtious clerk when I can order the product in five minutes from my cell phone?

    Not everything can be purchased on line, but local businesses had better wise up.

    Sales tax is just a smoke screen. It’s a hassle for businesses who have to waste time collecting, reporting and remitting money to government that has nothing to do running their business. Why should I be collecting money for the Zoo or the Symphany or TRAX or anything else that is not a direct cost to the local government because of my business? The Constitution forbids an export tax between States. An Internet Sales Tax is an export tax.

  • Roland Kayser Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Jan. 7, 2018 8:16 p.m.

    One part of the retail apocalypse that everyone seems to be ignoring is that many retailers have been taken over by private equity firms and hedge funds who immediately load the firms up with tons of debt. That is their business model. The problem is that even a small drop in sales results in companies being unable to service their debt. Bankruptcy quickly follows.