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The Internet The Almighty Buck

Santa Shopped Online This Year 133

An anonymous reader writes "ZDNet is reporting on another blockbuster year for online shopping. Online shopping was up almost 30 percent over last year." From the article: " Clothing was the top seller in terms of dollar amount, at $5.3 billion total, up 42 percent from last year's revenue, the report said. Computer hardware and peripherals showed the most growth, 126 percent, at $4.8 billion. Consumer electronics was the second fastest growing category, garnering $4.8 billion, up 109 percent. People spent $3 billion on books online, up 66 percent, and $2.3 billion on products in the toys/video games category of hardware and software, a drop of 9 percent from last year, the study found. "
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Santa Shopped Online This Year

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  • So how long .. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vodkamattvt ( 819309 ) on Sunday January 01, 2006 @03:55PM (#14375526) Homepage
    before the gov't demands all those juicy sales taxes? You know its coming, especially after the huge growth in online sales every year.
    • Re:So how long .. (Score:3, Informative)

      by DrEldarion ( 114072 )
      They really are trying to... [slashdot.org]

      It really is hard to get past the fact that it's unconstitutional, though.

      • Can you say "National Sales Tax"?

        I knew ya could.

        KFG
        • How about a flat tax system and just dump the bloated IRS all togeather?

          http://www.fairtax.org/ [fairtax.org]
          • Won't do a damned thing for most taxes, a point often overlooked.

            KFG
            • Maybe you have signatures hidden or something, but his is: http://www.fairtax.org/ [fairtax.org] Read that and come back when you have something to say relevant to that.
              • Re:Fair tax... (Score:1, Insightful)

                by Anonymous Coward
                Hey that looks really fair, a single parent on minimum wage
                ends up 102 dollars better off, but (OH NO!) only after the
                special (*cough* web-page only fudge factor) "prebate family
                allowance" is added, in reality they'll be a lot worse off

                It also looks really fair for a couple living on social
                security, but (OH NO!) only after the (*cough web-page only
                fudge factor) "prebate family allowance" is added, in
                reality they'll be worse off

                A family of 4 with one wage earner are much better off,
                I'll agree. No issues here
              • Maybe you have signatures hidden or something . . .

                Nope, and since I am already familiar with the proposed system I knew where you were coming from. The system will eliminate some hidden taxes and not effect other taxes, hidden or otherwise, at all.

                It would be a start, although I have philosophical objections in being forced to be a government tax collector in order to do business at all. These objections may well only be intensified by the fact of recieving financial compensation for doing so.

                KFG
                • http://www.fairtaxvolunteer.org/smart/faq-main.htm l#2 [fairtaxvolunteer.org]
                  is the list of taxes to be abolished. What federal taxes won't it abolish?
                  • What federal taxes won't it abolish?

                    I don't recall using that phrasing.

                    KFG
                    • Re:Fair tax... (Score:2, Interesting)

                      by GigsVT ( 208848 ) *
                      kfg:

                      If you run a business today you are a tax collector in every sense of the word. You withhold payroll taxes, you charge sales taxes, you file 1099s on interest and dividends you issue to ensure that the recipients pay the tax.

                      Businesses are already the main collectors of tax. Many even wind up paying $10,000 a year or more for accountants and accounting software to make sure they don't screw the taxes up.

                      The Fair Tax just simplifies the process by making all the federal taxes one simple to compute perc
                    • If you run a business today you are a tax collector in every sense of the word.

                      Indeed, and . . . I am not happy about it.

                      You withhold payroll taxes. . .

                      Not even when I owned a brick and mortar, although I have had to deal with that issue when responsible for someone else's business.

                      The only legitimate challenge to the fair tax I've ever heard was from the man soon to be governor of Virginia, Tim Kaine.

                      Well, you've just heard one that goes to a deeper level than the mere difference between graduated and flat
                    • Yeah, it assumes people will spend money. The argument is specious

                      Given that consumer debt is very high, I seriously doubt many people are saving money as they should be. I don't know about you, but personally am always having to owe someone something.

                      Trust me, people will continue to spend money. Simplifying the tax system puts the burden of pressure on the government to ballance the budget with one lump taxable sum. Instead, we got polititians masking their tax-funneling to other schemes and comming up wi
          • Flat tax wouldn't be much fun for the poor.
            • Why? They pay the same percentage of their income as anyone else. Someone making 30,000 (after the usual deductions) could pay only 4,500 while someone making 300,000 would pay 45,000. Why is this not fair?

              Don't forget that most people aren't proposing that we actually eliminate sales tax, and in most states food and clothing (which take up most of the lower income class earnings) is not taxed. If sales tax were to be eliminated, I would be in favor of simply making food and clothing purchases tax ded

              • They pay the same percentage of their income as anyone else.

                That's precisely the problem.

                A family unit making $30,000 a year paying 10% in taxes likely can't spare that $3,000, while the family unit making $300,000 a year is far more likely to be able to spare $30,000 for taxes.
      • by artemis67 ( 93453 ) on Sunday January 01, 2006 @04:42PM (#14375685)
        however, it's up to the individual to volunarily report all internet purchases on their state tax form, so it's a wonder why they even bothered to pass the law.
      • Re:So how long .. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by theCoder ( 23772 )
        It really is hard to get past the fact that it's unconstitutional, though.

        So was income tax, once upon a time [wikipedia.org].

        Of course, in today's environment, being unconstitutional doesn't seem to stop anyone anyway.
    • They already do tax you if the online store has some sort of presence in your state (ie Warehouse, physical store etc.).


      It sucked while I lived in tennesee since just about every retailer had a distro center in Memphis because of fedex.

    • Yeah, how long before Big Bother kills the goose that lays the golden egg?

    • Nooooooooooooooooooooo! That'd just ruin my day.
    • before the gov't demands all those juicy sales taxes? You know its coming, especially after the huge growth in online sales every year.

      Some companies, like BestBuy, already collect state sales taxes. However, when they offer free shipping like recently, it's still a great deal. Point-and-click shopping, no money spent on gasoline or time wasted dodging soccer moms in the mall, and let the UPS guy worry about road conditions.

    • For one reason: the absolute nightmare of trying to figure out the EXACT sales tax you'll pay for an online purchase.

      Remember, there are over 44,000 sales tax jurisdictions on all 50 states, and betweeen:

      1. Trying to figure out where the buyer is located to get the exact right sales tax level.

      2. Trying to disperse the sales tax revenue back to the local jurisdiction.

      ...The costs of compliance would not be worth it for everyone involved.

    • before the gov't demands all those juicy sales taxes?

      Could some politician in that "pro-Internet tax" camp please explain to me how online mail order materially differs from the catalog mail order that has been practiced by the likes of Sears for over a hundred years?

    • Re:So how long .. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dr. Cody ( 554864 )
      Any government which allows there to be so many different sales tax rates doesn't deserve a dime from interstate transactions.
  • by scheming ( 862018 ) on Sunday January 01, 2006 @04:01PM (#14375546)
    I got nothing at all for christmas this year... :(
  • by welcher ( 850511 ) on Sunday January 01, 2006 @04:03PM (#14375553)
    The summary doesn't seem to have it quite right: the $30b is an estimate of what was spent 31 Oct - 23 Dec. Which is 30% than same estimate last year. But, FTA, another company did a survey for a similar period and found total sales to be $18b, up 25% from the previous year. Which all goes to suggest there isn't an agreed measure of online spending ...
  • Clothing, eh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 06metzp ( 713177 ) on Sunday January 01, 2006 @04:04PM (#14375558)
    It seems odd that clothing would be the top seller online, given that it involves more to return/exchange items to an online store than a regular store if the clothes should happen to be the wrong size.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Sucks... guess there won't be anymore catfights in Victoria Secret.
    • by nizo ( 81281 ) *
      Luckily I am guessing that many of the online clothing purchases consisted of about 9 square inches of actual fabric with lots of elastic straps. At least thats what I asked for from Santa before they threw me out of the mall anyway.
    • Well before the internet, catalog shopping took off in a big way in the UK.
      You got a big catalog sent to you twice a year, and picked out what you wanted when you wanted, the goods were usually delivered quickly and returns generally weren't a problem.

      This involved exactly the same logistical problems you are describing and they managed it quite well.
      Its probably still available, the only change I see is that the online catalog is more upto date with stock and fads.
    • I agree. (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Even if you know your correct size not all clothing sizes are equal. They can differ among different brands, and even different lines of clothes manufactured under the same brand name. Clothing is something that you really have to try on before you can be sure about making a purchase. Unless you are "wasting" tons of money on sales tax for over-priced designer clothes, I really don't see the benefit of purchasing clothing online instead of at your local department store. In fact, the only reason I buy e
    • They're way ahead of you... quite a few chains with storefronts allow you to exchange mail-ordered items at any store [sears.com].

      For me, a gift is about the only time I would buy clothing online. If it's for me I don't buy online, because you can't quite tell what it will look like or how it will fit. But as a gift, those problems are the same whether buying online or at a store.

    • I figure these are clothing gift cards. I know I'd appreciate such things more than most everything else I'd get on Christmas.
  • by dada21 ( 163177 ) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Sunday January 01, 2006 @04:06PM (#14375564) Homepage Journal
    I own 2 (and 1/2) retail stores in the Midwest US, and this will be our final year in retail.

    Our inventory was better than or equal to more dotcoms. Our service was better (30 day DOA or defect replacement and lifetime labor). Our pricing was equal. Our hours were "better" since we were open 7 days a week.

    What killed us? Sales tax. Our average sale in 2005 for about $230 (we sell paintball, skateboards and a ton of clothing). At 7%, we were consistently $16+ over per average sale than the dotcoms, even with instant acquisition.

    2005 was our best year ever, so we're ending it at the top. Next year's outlook is bleak as many states want to raise sales tax and other fees. No thanks. In 2005 I paid more in sales tax than I did in payroll.

    I'm not mad, actually -- the dotcoms are a great way to save money AND screw the state. I feel bad about my customers who loved our store, but I also know many bought online for the higher margin items that didn't need servicing (we were not competitive on those items as we had to price in future service and were always about 20% higher).

    Local communities WILL suffer, though. Retail sales can be a big income base for the local community -- my mechanic performs almost 80% of his work for retail employees' cars. My dentist has almost 1/3rd of her patients working in retail. As retail suffers, these secondary markets will also suffer. But the positive is that the money we save in retail by shopping online should offer us more money to spend on other things.

    It was a great 5 years, I did very well financially, and in the end, the state decided they didn't want me around -- otherwise they'd have ended the vile sales tax that is quickly ruining retail.
    • Hmmm. That's a pretty sad story. You helped me see both sides of the story. I do have a question though and your story confuses me a little. So not having taxes for online shops is what killed you? I'm not sure I understand how you went out of business. If you could clear up the confusion that would be great. Also, since you so clearly identified the problem (and have great understanding of it) what would you propose a solution to be? Thanks, would love to hear your reply. -Tussey
      • by dada21 ( 163177 ) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Sunday January 01, 2006 @04:36PM (#14375661) Homepage Journal
        I'm not sure I understand how you went out of business.

        We didn't go out of business, we're making the choice to close our doors -- big difference. In every business, in every market, there comes a time when the old ways are obsolete. Ma and pa retail stores are pretty much antiquated, so I figured we'd best get out on top. One of my 3 stores closed up on its own (major cash flow problems and a very disloyal community), so I found my exit strategy and took it.

        Also, since you so clearly identified the problem (and have great understanding of it) what would you propose a solution to be?

        There is no solution. It is so convoluted, but in the end I have to blame government -- and I know I'll get flamed for saying that.

        Look at it this way:

        1. Our rent is outrageous -- almost $18-$25 per square foot. I fully blame this on the Fed's easy credit and a massive amount of "new" money entering the property market. There is no way my main store's rent should be $5000 per month -- but it is! This is in a town of 4000 people, mind you.

        2. Our payroll is outrageous -- for every $1 I pay my employee, I have almost $1.50 to also pay to government and accountants (because of the tax laws). There's no way around it, especially since the warehouses who sell for the big dotcoms hire people either at minimum wage, or as contractors below minimum wage. I have friends who work at the big dotcoms in the warehouses and they're practically slaves.

        3. We pay 7% to sales tax, plus the an additional 3.5% to accountants to handle the sales tax. One store files over 45 different forms a year for various government bodies. This puts us at a significant penalty over companies that don't have to pay this portion.

        4. We pay a larger portion in shipping -- we don't move millions annually so we don't get the same discounts as the big guys.

        But its ok! The dotcoms won because they were more efficient. Yes, my customers who lose me will lose great service and a very community oriented business, but if they weren't willing to pay the extra 15-20%, why should I take a big risk?

        Retail is dead, except for the megacorps who have ways around the issues plaguing me. I recently found out 3 super stores in my neighboring town get a sales tax rebate -- they charge 7% to the consumer but get to keep over half of it. Yeah, that's fair.
        • and a very disloyal community

          While the rest of the post was interesting, what does this have to do with anything? Customers don't owe you any 'loyalty', nor or ever.

          Max
        • Our rent is outrageous -- almost $18-$25 per square foot. I fully blame this on the Fed's easy credit and a massive amount of "new" money entering the property market. There is no way my main store's rent should be $5000 per month -- but it is! This is in a town of 4000 people, mind you.

          That's insane (and hard to believe). Here in Toronto, population 5 million, retail rates are on the order of a dollar or two per square foot. Check here: http://toronto.craigslist.org/off/ [craigslist.org]

      • I do have a question though and your story confuses me a little. So not having taxes for online shops is what killed you? I'm not sure I understand how you went out of business. If you could clear up the confusion that would be great.

        I agree. I'm a little confused also. I'm pretty sure that last week dada was claiming to be running a programming bodyshop while doing pretty much the same diatribe about taxes. Strange. In my experience, the only time online beats brick-and-mortar is when the locals hav

    • by GoodOmens ( 904827 ) on Sunday January 01, 2006 @04:17PM (#14375606) Homepage
      So wait, you were able to succesfully compete with online retailers AND make a profit but your shutting your doors just because you don't like giving the state money?

      That doesn't make any sort of buisness sense as you stated 2005 was your best year (and you also pointed out you did very well financially.)

      • by dada21 ( 163177 ) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Sunday January 01, 2006 @04:30PM (#14375640) Homepage Journal
        I've been in business for 16+ years (a variety of businesses). Retail wasn't my thing -- my wife begged me for a store and then I got hooked. We do constant market analyses to stay ahead of the competition -- online and brick and mortar. The outlook for next year looks BAD. My political views might seem to some a little aggressive, but I forsee a bad recession starting, and the retailers will get slammed, in my opinion.

        There's an idea I have that many people throw good money at bad problems -- I won't do that. I'll lose about $100,000 closing the stores, but that's better than losing 4 times as much if things go sour. This year was exceptional because we finally overcame some starting costs (build outs and the rest) that I paid out of my pocket. I do NOT see good things ahead in 2006, and I don't want to take that big of a risk.
        • by GoodOmens ( 904827 ) on Sunday January 01, 2006 @05:22PM (#14375850) Homepage
          Fair enough response. A little more clear :-).

          Sounds like you should just join em. Keep your invetory, buy cheap space where realestate is cheap (ie where window shoppers dont go .. or hell to start this venture move to your garage). Get a internet connection and open a online store ;-).

          With some decent marketing using google adsense you will have customers in no time.

        • I think you are correct in 2006. Geopolitical events will be severely influencing all the markets,with a lot of changes coming, and most of them not good. But... all of them will have opportunities for those that are nimble.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Every dime which goes into that register should belong to me, dammit! Let other people pay the bills for state-supplied services! I want it all and I want it for nothing.
      • Dude, this guy is a True Believer of the libertarian camp (if you don't believe me, check his comment history). I wouldn't be surprised if he closed his business just to further or justify his politics.
      • Actually, a business is a subscriber base. The subscriber base is all those who would shop there. There is nothing else to a business. All the little things that are tacked onto a business are just to gain as many subscribers as possible. When you've built up a subscriber base, your business is worth a lot. The more subscribers, the more valuable. If you have a few subscribers, your business isn't worth much more than that assets, which may have already depreciated and aren't worth much. This person would h
    • The door swings both ways. As such, why not expand your shop to include online sales to get out of state revenue too?
    • Just to be sure I understand, you had a great year and did well financially but are closing voluntarily while accusing sales tax inequities of killing your business, right? The business that you say is thriving and profitable, right?

      So are you just pissed off that the state forces you to collect and forward taxes to them while on-line retailers without a physical presence in your state don't have to? Or are you just pissed off at the whole idea of sales taxes to the extent that you're willing to go out of
      • by fimbulvetr ( 598306 ) on Sunday January 01, 2006 @05:20PM (#14375842)
        He has another comment here:
        http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=172698&cid=143 75640 [slashdot.org]

        Basically, he has an exit strategy. Something a lot of people with businesses/investments don't have. An exit strategy is essential and following it is even more essential. Personally, I applaud him for such a move. He might lose some money on it (Costs of shutting down, lost profits), but chances are good that he's probably going to be correct more often than not on the signals he's getting. Sometimes it's just better to quit while you're ahead, especially in a case like this when he can see some clouds moving in.
      • 1 of my 3 businesses was closed partially due to sales tax inequities, but I can't go into details right now due to legal reasons.

        It was our best year, yes -- the first 7 months were record setting, the last 5 months were the worst in history. Katrina, gas prices, and overall recessionary valleys lead us to make the choice to downsize and regroup for 2007.

        I'm not pissed that we pay taxes and dotcoms don't -- I don't think anyone should. I would hate to see online purchases taxed. Taxes decrease purchases
    • Move to Oregon (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PIPBoy3000 ( 619296 )
      We don't have sales tax. Of course, the property tax is a killer, so you can then complain that online stores can be located in very inexpensive locations.
    • It was a great 5 years, I did very well financially, and in the end, the state decided they didn't want me around -- otherwise they'd have ended the vile sales tax that is quickly ruining retail.

      Riiight. It was the damn State! They forced you out of business!

      OK, seriously. Look at this statement, and notice the inherent contradictions. You claim that the state forced you out of business, yet you state you had a great run and did very well financially. This doesn't make any sense.

      And a note about sal

    • I can't let this pass...

      In 2005 I paid more in sales tax than I did in payroll.

      YOU didn't pay the sales tax. WE (i.e., your customers) did! Sales tax is a no loss collection with you as the collection agent for the state. In fact, you could very well invest the money until it's due that quarter to make some profit. In my state, if you pay it by a certain time you get a (tiny) rebate. However, If you spent it on other things instead of keeping it separate and then had to scrape it together every three m

    • Unfortunately the strip mall/downtown "specialty store" is going to be the casualty of on-line shopping. Keep in mind, though, it's always a risky venture to open a shop like that, whether 1976 or 2006 (the only thing more risky is opening a restaurant.) You're selling paintball equiptment and skateboards, both trendy items that go in and out of favor. Your clientelle is most likely primarily 15-25 year old men, a pretty transient age group-- they tend to move away, or lose interest, or whatever and don'
    • And you didn't open an online storefront... why?
    • Another day, another business that dada21 has owned for years. I wonder what business he will own tomorrow?

      There is only one thing in common among all of the business that he owns, which is that they all neatly coincide with whatever topics are currently on Slashdot. I think it is amazing that someone can own at least 365 companies (one for each day of the year), and still have financial problems that are caused by the government.
    • It was a great 5 years, I did very well financially, and in the end, the state decided they didn't want me around -- otherwise they'd have ended the vile sales tax that is quickly ruining retail.

      So you did very well while you were being ruined ?

  • by Yartrebo ( 690383 ) on Sunday January 01, 2006 @04:47PM (#14375701)
    I wonder if online retailers would change their tune if there was a major crackdown on people evading paying their use taxes. When you buy something online, you are responsible to pay your state a tax equal to the difference between the local rate and the rate you paid (essentially the full sales tax for most online purchases). It isn't that hard to track violators. If ABC web shopping doesn't collect sales taxes AND a citizen of the state received a package from them AND said citizen filled in $0 for their use tax, one can deduce that said citizen underreported their use tax by at least that amount. A list of packages could be generated by forcing companies making local deliveries to report a list of all packages delivered (this would require a federal law as it falls under the Elastic Clause of the Constitution). If you cannot provide the receipts proving you accrued no more use tax than you declared, then you pay the tax with penalties and interest.

    Personally, I feel it would be a lot easier and trample on far fewer liberties to just have the web retailer collect sales tax.
    • Well, an experiment is to look at European and Japanese online retailers. Both of those places have nationwide sales taxes(Japans a paltry 5% compared to 16+ in most of Europe) so it HAS to be applied to online sales from major retailers(technically online auctions and fly by night places should have to pay it to IIRC, but good luck getting them to do so). I've lived in the US, Germany, and Japan, and bought off of the respective amazon.whatever in all those places. In Japan and Germany the price listed
    • It comes down to how "constitutional" the use tax really is. Already in Michigan we've got the smokers suing the state trying to collect extra taxes on tobacco bought out-of-state, due to the empty state coffers they are trying anything and everything to grab revenue. Should be interesting to find out how these lawsuits work out, especially now that they want to automate the "use tax" collection with other states.
    • Retailers that already have a physical presence in a state (retail stores) collect state sales taxes for online purchases. Purely online sales are protected by federal law (so far), although states are lobbying hard to get the exemption removed. The use tax doesn't really apply, and I don't think online retailers would be interested in becoming out-of-state tax collection agents - it's unpaid work for them.

      What if I order a gift from an online retailer based in New York and have it sent to my brother in C
    • I wonder if online retailers would change their tune if there was a major crackdown on people evading paying their use taxes.

      Most people I know don't file state income taxes much less keep track of people failing to pay sales taxes.

      Secondly, you have to remember that many states don't have sales tax. The federal government is only responsible to interstate trade which by constitution can't be taxed (there is no federal sales tax you know) and the states are responsible for sales taxes if they want them. The
  • Should I break the bad news about Santa to the editors?
    • That he doesn't use a computer? Just like the Queen of England??

      What else could it be?
      He brought me a really nice computer this year.
  • Its 2006, it hasn't been christmas yet this year...
  • ...that flat screen TVs (LCD and Plasma) made the largest jump as the prices are coming down. I bought one this year and I tend to reflect the buying habits of most low to middle income tech obsessed Americans. So if I got one, then it's probably very likely that most of you did too. And since we make up about 95% of the people who do shopping online (just so you know I buy about 5% of my stuff online, I still trust brick and mortar over online) it's very likely that we dictate the numbers. So a show of
    • I dont know anybody whos gonna buy something like a TV online. Yeah, the TV may be $50 cheaper, but freight shipping is a major PITA, and is probably more expensive total. I'll certanly shop and compare online, but when it comes time to buy something large, heavy and fragile, i wanna put it in my car myself from the store.
      • Exactly! And when it comes to such big-ticket items, always always ALWAYS get the four year extended warranty if shopping at BestBuy! Lightning stikes DO happen. It's best to be left with a boat anchor in case it does happen.
    • On a simular note, I've been buying computers/components online for quite a while, but always bought monitors locally. The reason was quite simple: The cost of shipping a big, heavy CRT usually put the local stores ahead in price. But LCD monitors changed this, all the LCDs I have bought, I purchased online. The two LCDs that I advised others to buy this Christmas were ordered online.

      As for your survey, no flatscreen TV for me. I really don't have a use for one.
  • It's because Santa used the easy button.

    Mega pixels!
  • by btarval ( 874919 ) on Sunday January 01, 2006 @06:39PM (#14376145)
    The modern image of Santa Claus is, I'm afraid, a sad one.

    Santa would HAVE to shop on-line this year. It would be the only way that he could legally get the toys.

    The old way of doing things, by having his elves make the toys, is now illegal. It constitutes "Intellectual Property theft". And WIPO, the RIAA and MPAA all joined forces to force Saint Nick to adhere to the New World Order.

    Our now less jolly old Saint Nick has had to negotiate Patent Cross-licensing, Manufacturing, Trademark and Copyright agreements with all of the major corporate entities this year. This left little time to build toys; hence the need for Santa's web shopping spree.

    Consequently, the Elves have had their prior work outsourced to the Elves in India, China, and elsewhere. Fortunately, they are still gainfully employed, as they have now become either high-powered Lawyers or PEB's (Pointy-eared bosses). This was a bit hard on the Elves, as they are normally good, by nature.

    Santa's visits have also had to come to a stop. The delivery by flying Reindeer constituted illegal border crossings and smuggling, as well as breaking and entering via the Chimney. Now he has to use UPS.

    The various State Attorneys General are also looking into the issue of whether Interstate taxes have to be paid, from previous years.

    Somehow, I liked the old way of doing things (before this ad-hoc notion of "Intellectual Property" was created) much better.

  • A lot of electrons are being thrown around about how sales tax is giving internet retailers an 'unfair advantage' compared to their brick and mortar counterparts. I ended up splitting my money roughly evenly between Amazon and their ilk, and their brick and mortar equivalents. Even with roughly equal prices, the internet stores allow the customer to avoid a major costly, time consuming, and stressful part of holiday shopping: the trip to the mall. If you figure the cost of car operation, and the time wasted driving, parking, walking past stores you won't patronize, and the aches and pains of shlepping all those packages around, sales tax barely registers. People are realizing that avoiding much of the hassle is valuable in itself.

    On the other hand, when I finally broke down and went to the local Mega Mall and went into the Books a Million to get a few fill-in gifts, I was surprised by how much being able to scan a large number of titles in a very short time was helpful in selecting gifts for hard to buy for relatives. While Amazon has their suggestive selling algorithms to suggest related information, seeing a book out of the corner of my eye frequently had me saying K--- would like this or TR would like that. It just isn't possible to present that kind of information as completely online as it is in a brick and mortar environment.
  • But how much of it was on the all-important "Cyber Monday?"
  • This is hardly surprising. Buying DVDs, CDs, games etc in the UK, the high street shops have a crappy selection, poor layout, overly loud music blaring and high prices. I was looking through some of the post-christmas sales offers and the prices only just matched Amazon's, even with a bunch of coupons.

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