Sales Tax Legislation Affecting Online Retailers Could Pass Later this Year

Sales tax legislation that would eliminate the perceived competitive advantage that online sellers have had over traditional brick-and-mortar retailers could pass Congress by the close of this year.

The Senate’s Marketplace Fairness Act (S.1832) and its House companion, the Marketplace Equity Act (H.R. 3179), aim to give states the authority to collect sales tax from online and catalog retailers (i.e. “remote” sellers), provided that states simplify their tax codes to make it easier for retailers to collect sales tax at the time of transaction.

Since the 1992 Supreme Court ruling Quill v. North Dakota, states have not been able to require retailers to collect sales tax unless the seller has a physical presence in the state. Under the Marketplace Fairness and Marketplace Equity Acts, states seeking the authority to collect sales tax from remote retailers can sign onto the SSUTA or adopt the simplification mandates included in the bill.

The legislation has received strong bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate, as well as widespread support from 55 national trade associations, 95 state and local trade associations, and 85 companies, including online retailers Amazon.com, Buy.com, Walmart, and Sears Holdings Corp.  Critics–including the Electronic Retailing Association and a coalition of e-commerce and online companies–argue that the bill would allow states to impose a new tax that would be burdensome on e-commerce and consumers due to variations between tax jurisdictions.  They argue that the simplification of state tax laws called for in the bill will not alleviate burdens nor will the potential tax revenue stream (estimated at well below one percent of total state and local tax revenue) justify the expense of implementation.

Because e-commerce retailers do not collect sales tax, the price of a product purchased online is often cheaper than the price of the same product at a brick-and-mortar store.  This disparity impacts both retailers and their vendors as buyers for a physical store try to remain price competitive by requesting vendors to lower their price for the product.

This post was originally written by the Toy Industry Association and published at ToyAssociation.org. For more news, visit www.toybook.com, follow The Toy Book on Twitter, and like The Toy Book on Facebook. The Toy Book is a bimonthly trade magazine covering the toy industry, published by Adventure Publishing Group.

Walmart to Launch Diary of a Wimpy Kid Exclusive Retail Campaign

The Diary of a Wimpy Kid franchise is anything but wimpy. In preparation for the release of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days on August 3, Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products will launch a national retail campaign with Walmart, making the world’s largest retailer a One Stop Wimpy Shop. Beginning July 31, more than 2,500 stores nationwide will carry a full range of products including exclusive merchandise that can only be purchased at Walmart. The program will remain in stores through August 28.

As the third installment of the film arrives in theaters, Walmart will carry all of the books in Jeff Kinney’s best-selling series, board games, and DVDs. Walmart will also feature several exclusive products, including a Wimpy Kid Mini Prank Kit, from Cardinal Industries, containing a whoopee cushion, moldy cheese, and flies in ice, all packaged in a collectible tin; a line of book accessories, including bookmarks and book lights from Andrews + Blaine and Trends International; and a two-pack DVD set featuring the films Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules.

The One Stop Wimpy Shop will offer an updated book, The Wimpy Kid Movie Diary: How Greg Heffley Went Hollywood, that chronicles how each of the three movies in the franchise were made. The book includes behind-the-scenes photos, fun facts, and a free limited-edition movie poster.

This post was originally written by Sierra McCleary-Harris and published by ToyBook.com. For more news, visit www.toybook.com, follow The Toy Book on Twitter, and like The Toy Book on Facebook. The Toy Book is a bimonthly trade magazine covering the toy industry, published by Adventure Publishing Group.

Ickee Stikeez Now Available at Walmart and Walgreens

Ickee Stikeez, from Zing Toys, are squishy, monster-themed collectibles with suction cups that stick to flat surfaces. Ickeez stick to any flat surface, such as lockers, lunchboxes, windows, and cell phones. When pulled-off, the Ickeez make a loud “pop!” Characters come in “Podz” that are reminiscent of vending machine capsules, which also have built-in play. Kids can connect them to create various different structures and environments for their Ickee Stikeez characters. Each pack has a number, which can be entered on www.ickeez.com for additional content, back story, wallpaper, and short videos.
Ickeez Series 1 is now available at select Walmart locations and Walgreens. Ickee Stikeez Series 2 will be in all Walmart stores this holiday season. There are 24 total characters in Series 1. They are sold in three-pack blisters retailing for $2.99 each.

Report: Target Has the Best Social Media Presence Among Retailers

According to a new survey by L.E.K. Consulting, as reported by Internet Retailer, Target Corp. has the best social media presence among retailers. Target took the top spot with 8.5 percent, followed by Amazon.com (8 percent), Walmart (5.4 percent), Best Buy (4 percent), and Macy’s (4 percent). L.E.K surveyed 2,000 U.S. consumers, but did not say when the survey took place or define what constituted a strong social media presence.

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Walmart Kicks-off Black Friday Events Starting at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving

Walmart has released its Black Friday circular to shoppers on Facebook and Walmart.com to help families plan their holiday shopping. Items from electronics to gaming consoles and toys will be available during three shopping events.

Walmart’s Black Friday events will be held at the following times:

  • 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 24) –Toys, Home, and Apparel
  • Midnight on Black Friday (Nov. 25) – Electronics
  • 8 a.m. Nov. 25 through the weekend – Gifts for the entire family

“Our customers told us they would rather stay up late to shop than get up early, so we’re going to hold special events on Thanksgiving and Black Friday,” says Duncan Mac Naughton, chief merchandising officer, Walmart U.S. “By sharing our Black Friday specials earlier than ever, we hope to make buying decisions easier for parents working hard to give their families the Christmas they deserve.”

In addition, all day long on Thanksgiving, shoppers can get online-only specials and save with free shipping options.

Walmart is also helping shoppers plan their in-store shopping strategy by making available store-specific maps on Facebook. To access the map, shoppers need to find their favorite store by clicking on the “My Local Walmart” application on Walmart’s Facebook page.

Walmart also promises to match the price of any local competitor’s printed ad for an identical product, including matching competitor’s deals for the day after Thanksgiving.

Victorious Products to Launch at Walmart for Back-to-School

Nickelodeon is gearing up for the initial launch of its Victorious products, based on the network’s live-action comedy series. The Victorious product line will be available exclusively at most Walmart stores in the U.S. and Canada during a special back-to-school window from this July to September.

The product line will include more than 250 Victorious-themed products, including apparel, accessories, entertainment, and school supplies. Walmart will also carry the Victorious: Season One, Volume One DVD, beginning July 5, as well as the Victorious CD soundtrack and a special Nickelodeon CD featuring stars from the network’s popular shows. Both CDs will be released on August 2

Regulators Approve Walmart’s Massmart Deal

According to the Associated Press, regulators approved Walmart’s $2.4 billion bid to buy a controlling share of South African retail chain Massmart. The AP reports that the deal followed “a fierce debate over protectionism in the country with the continent’s most promising economy.”

Under the ruling, government agency the Competition Tribunal said Walmart and Massmart could not lay off any workers for two years, must respect Massmart’s existing labor agreements for three years, and must invest in training South African suppliers. The AP reports that the company had already pledged to spend $14 million over the next three years to help farmers and other South African suppliers.

Walmart CEO and president Doug McMillon said he expected the transaction to be completed in a few weeks..

Universal Pictures and Walmart Unveil Exclusive Hop Merchandise

Universal Pictures and Walmart have announced a retail program tied to the upcoming live action/CG-animated comedy Hop, the second film from Illumination Entertainment (Despicable Me) that hits movie theaters across the country on April 1. Walmart customers can build their Hop-themed Easter baskets, and visit the movie-inspired “Candy Factory,” with 100 exclusive licensed products, including candy, toys, activities, and apparel.
“This is the first time we’ve worked with a licensed property to brand an important seasonal event in Walmart stores,” said Gary Severson, senior vice president, Home Entertainment, Walmart U.S.
The program, which rolled out March 17 in more than 3,000 Walmart stores, includes a dedicated aisle rolling out sweet Easter treats, and a Build-a-Basket Factory. Toys include character plush toys from Funrise, coloring and activity books from Dalmation Press, bubbles, pinwheels, paddle board, memory card games, etc. from Funrise, and Hop-themed video games for the Nintendo DS, DSi, and 3DS.
Blending animation with live action, Hop is a comedy about E.B. (voiced by Russell Brand), the teenage son of the Easter Bunny. On the eve of taking over the family business, E.B. leaves for Hollywood in pursuit of his dream of becoming a drummer. He encounters Fred (James Marsden), an out-of-work slacker with his own lofty goals, who accidentally hits E.B. with his car. Feigning injury, E.B. manipulates Fred into providing him shelter, and Fred finds himself with the world’s worst house guest.

Walmart Launches Toyland in Stores

Walmart has opened a one-stop toy destination, Toyland, in nearly all of its stores nationwide. With the addition of Toyland, Walmart now has the largest square footage dedicated to toys among all retailers.

Featured products include Scrabble Flash, Furreal Friends GoGo My Walkin’ Pup, Paper Jamz, Hide-and-Seek Jojo Interactive Bunny, and more. Toyland will be featured in Walmart Garden Centers through December 19

Walmart has also announced its “Toys and More” event, in time for the last holiday shopping weekend. Beginning at 9 p.m. on December 17 through December 19 (or while supplies last), Walmart stores will offer up to $50 in savings on many toys and electronics.

Image Credit: See.Walmart.com/Toyland

Walmart Shuffles Global.com, U.S. Leadership

Walmart announced new CEO appointments for both its U.S. enterprise and Global.com. Vice Chairman of Walmart Eduardo Castro-Wright has been appointed as Global’s president and CEO, while Bill Simon (pictured above) is Walmart’s new U.S. president and CEO.

Castro-Wright will maintain his seat as vice chairman, while both men report to Walmart’s President and CEO Mike Duke. Simon, previously Walmart’s COO, starts his new position immediately, whereas Castro-Wright takes over August 1.