Black Friday vs. Cyber Monday Fight Seen in Retailer Lobbying Files

Photograph by Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Tim Wiese, left, helps his father Randy Wiese load a newly purchased Samsung Electronics Co. 60-inch light-emitting diode (LED) television into his vehicle outside a Best Buy Co. store ahead of Black Friday in Peoria, Illinois, on Nov. 28, 2013.

Black Friday is heralded as the biggest shopping day of the year and the start of the holiday shopping season. In recent years, great deals on the internet on the Monday after Thanksgiving, called Cyber Monday, have been cutting into Black Friday sales.

Brick and mortar stores are complaining that Cyber Monday is hurting their bottom line.

One reason for the popularity of online shopping is avoiding paying sales tax on purchases. The solution? The Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013. This bill would force online retailers to collect the exact same tax that an in-person store would.

Stores that are lobbying members of Congress on this issue include Wal-Mart, whose total lobbying spend exceeds $5.3 million in 2013. Loews Corp., which has spent $1.5 million lobbying in 2013, also includes the issue in lobbying disclosures. Target Corp. has spent $1.4 million, Best Buy over $1 million, Home Depot about $780,000 – and all have lobbied on the Marketplace Fairness Act this year.

Some lower spenders include JC Penney’s, with a total lobbying spend of $160,000. The Gap has only spent $10,000 lobbying in 2013.

Online services lobbying on this bill include Google, which has spent $10 million on total lobbying this year. Amazon has spent $2.5 million and Ebay has spent $1.8 million.

Organizations whose members rely on local taxes are also lobbying on the bill. The National Education Association has spent over $1.7 million in total lobbying. The National Fraternal Order of Police’s total lobbying spend for 2013 is $165,000.

A number of governments are engaged in lobbying on this issue. Cities like Baytown, Texa; Daytona Beach, Florida; Kenmore, Washington; St Louis, Missouri; Aurora, Colorado and Grand Raids, Michigan are all lobbying on it. Counties including Fairfax County, Virginia; Lake County, Florida; Sonoma County, California and Cook County, Illinois have lobbied on it. Even the states of California, Indiana and Nevada are lobbying on it.

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