| SAN FRANCISCO
SAN FRANCISCO Jan 10 Best Buy Co, the
world's largest electronics retailer, said its online sales have
increased in certain markets as arch rival Amazon.com Inc
collects tax on purchases in more states.
"In California, Texas and Pennsylvania where Amazon.com
recently started collecting tax, it is very early, but Best Buy
has seen a 4 to 6 percent increase in online sales observed in
aggregate versus the rest of the chain," spokeswoman Amy von
Walter wrote in an email to Reuters.
"While some people may still prefer to shop online, the
sales tax parity has shown that people will shift their buying
habits," she added.
Amazon, the world's biggest Internet retailer, began
collecting sales tax in California on Sept. 15, weeks before the
start of the crucial fourth-quarter holiday season. In the weeks
leading up to the move, there were reports of binge buying of
higher-priced items like flat-screen TVs by some California
Amazon had started collecting state sales tax in Texas in
July and in Pennsylvania in September.
Critics of Amazon have argued that it had an unfair
advantage because big retailers, including Best Buy, Wal-Mart
Stores Inc and Target Corp, have had to collect
state sales tax on online sales for years because they have
stores and other physical operations in these locations.
But many states, hungry for extra tax revenue in the wake of
the 2008 financial crisis, have introduced new laws requiring
that Internet-only retailers also collect sales tax.
Big retailers hope that the requirement to collect sales tax
will reduce Amazon's price advantage and help them recoup some
sales that have been lost to the Internet retailer.
Best Buy also saw an increase of 6 to 9 percent in online
orders that are picked up in its stores in those three states,
compared with the rest of its chain, von Walter said.
Best Buy, which has been among the hardest hit by
competition from Amazon, is set to report holiday sales results
An Amazon spokesman declined to comment when asked if the
company saw an impact on fourth-quarter sales with the
imposition of sales tax in California, Texas and Pennsylvania.
In the past, Amazon executives have said there was little or
no sales impact from such changes in other regions.
Several analysts have argued that shoppers use Amazon for
its vast product selection and convenient, fast shipping and
returns, and not just its low prices.