Small business owners hope SCOTUS ruling drives sales at brick and mortar stores

HUNTSVILLE, Ala -- Online shopping could get a little bit more pricey after a supreme court decision that was made Thursday. In a 5 to 4 decision justices voted to reverse a 1992 ruling and allow states to force online retailers to collect sales tax.

What does this mean for Alabamians?

Competing with giant online retailers can be a challenge for small businesses

"That's why we made sure that the brands that we are carrying here are so unique," Elitaire Boutique owner, Kayla Adams said.

Adams' boutique is located on Clinton Avenue in downtown Huntsville. She says she hopes this ruling drives more people to shop downtown.

"Visit these stores and see what products we have in our stores because it's not necessarily cheaper to buy online anymore," she said.

City and state officials have released statements echoing small business owners.

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle released a statement saying, " Wednesday's decision makes it fair for all retailers and levels the playing field among our brick and mortar stores and global online companies."

Governor Kay Ivey also weighed in saying, "The ruling is a common-sense approach that modernizes existing limitations on the taxation of e-commerce sales and will facilitate collections in our global, technology-driven economy."

A 2012 study from the University of Alabama at Birmingham estimated the state would lose more than $1 billion in revenue during the next five years due to uncollected taxes from e-commerce.

The state began a voluntary program to collect sales tax from 200 remote sellers.

The program began in 2015 and ran until April of this year. It resulted in more than 100 million dollars in revenue.

Adams says its important to get that money back into the community and she hopes more people will walk through the doors of downtown stops to do just that.

"You invest in the community when you shop local. So, if people want more exciting things to come to the city they have to spend their money locally," she said.

It's not just Alabama that was losing money to online retailers.

The General Accountability Office reports that not collecting sales tax from online retailers cost states across the country $13.4 billion last year.

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