CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCBD) — Winn Query’s Mt. Pleasant Store, Baby Bloomers, is a reflection of himself:
He’s a dad, grandpa, and a salesman.
“When we’re dealing with customers, we like to provide them with accurate, correct information that we get through our industry because this is what we do. We’re experts at this,” said Query. He says that’s the treatment you get at most local businesses. However, he fears the future of small local businesses looks like empty storefronts.
“All of us are in danger based on internet business and continuing increase in sales tax,” said Query.
“Even spending money at local big box stores, they employ local people and that money stays here,” he said.
The national retail federation found about 109 million Americans shopped online during Black Friday. Only about 99 million people went to the stores.
Some economists believe the loss of in store shoppers may mean job loss. One study says retail accounts for 13 percent of all employment. That same study says by the end of 2015, Amazon put so many brick and mortar stores out of business, almost 300,000 retail jobs were cut.
Another reason some people choose to shop online is because shoppers can sometimes avoid a sales tax. But, they may not realize a portion of that tax goes to their community.
In Charleston County, there’s a 9% sales tax. 2 % of that money stays in the county to go toward transportation and other local projects.
To see a list of the transportation projects in the county, click here.
Berkeley County has an 8% sales tax. 2% goes to the county: half to roads, while the other half goes back to property owners.
Here’s a look at the Berkeley County road projects.
“When they spend a dollar here, one penny of that goes to toward your property tax bill,” said Deputy Supervisor of Berkeley County, Tim Callanan.
Callanan says the county’s proximity to I-26 brings a lot of tourists to the area, which means more feet inside the county’s stores.
“You’re essentially getting tourists and shoppers from other counties reducing your property tax bill,” Callanan said.
News 2 looked up the sales tax totals for Berkeley and Charleston counties by year since 2009.
Both counties show their lowest numbers from 2009-2011.
It was around those years that Jamee Haley started Lowcountry Local First. It’s an organization aimed to rejuvenate local business.
“We create 3 times as much money to go back into our local community when we support these local independent businesses,” said Haley.
“Additionally, it increases our tax base. Those taxes go to support our parks, our libraries, our roads, public services,” she listed.
She says even national businesses are dying due to online shopping.
“Macy’s closed a number of stores … And Sears,” she said.
“We’ve heard it from our members. There’s certainly a convenience to going online, image if everyone did that though, what this community would look like,” Haley said.
Query hopes the online shopping trend fades out before the local businesses do.
“If you’re shopping online, and if we’re not paying sales tax, we’re really kind of turning our back on our community,” said Query.