Online holiday shoppers spent 30 percent more on Cyber Monday than they did in 2011, but Missouri’s coffers won’t benefit, at least from sales made from Internet-only stores where sales tax is not collected.
Organizations such as the Missouri Retailers Association are encouraged Columbia residents to be smart about their online shopping this year.
“Locally, we are losing out quite a bit,” David Overfelt, president of the Missouri Retailers Association, said. “That’s why I try to tell people, if they’re shopping online, to shop on local merchants’ websites if they have a cyber store.”
Consumers not only by-passed brick and mortar stores for their computers but also for their tablets and phones. More than 18 percent of shoppers used a mobile device to access a retailer’s website, an increase of 70 percent over 2011, according to a report today from International Business Machines Corp. (IBM).
Online retailers are poised for a record $43.4 billion holiday sales season as shoppers increasingly rely on social networks and mobile devices to find and buy merchandise, according to market researcher ComScore Inc.
Amy Blouin, executive director of the Missouri Budget Project, said the growth in online sales could put extra burden on state and local government services, which rely heavily on sales tax collections for their budgets.
Missouri currently doesn’t collect sales tax from retailers who operate out of state or only online. Missouri was one of 44 states that helped form the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement, which minimized costs and administrative burdens on retailers who operate in multiple states, making it easier for them to pay sales taxes in each state. That agreement also encourages remote sellers to collect taxes on purchases online or by mail.
But Missouri has not passed corresponding legislation; a bill was introduced into the General Assembly last year but failed to pass.
Nearly 1,400 retailers have voluntarily collected more than $700 million in sales taxes in states that have passed the streamlined legislation, but those states could be missing out on more than $23 billion in uncollected sales tax from businesses that aren’t participating.
The U.S. Census Bureau said online sales represented 5.2 percent of total retail sales last quarter, a percentage that continues to creep up.