Retailers raise delivery license reform issue; lawmakers listen

As of Aug. 1, Law Allows $10,000 Annual Threshold
Before $100 Delivery License is Required


“We struggle every year to make a profit, and we support a lot of families in our towns by giving our employees a place to work,” said Shane Spiller, president of Tuscaloosa-based Spiller Furniture & Mattress, which has stores in 11 Alabama cities, employing more than 100.

MEMBER SINCE 1994: Shane Spiller was one of many Alabama Retail Association members who spoke out during the Alabama Legislature’s 2017 regular session on the issue of delivery license reform. The voice of retail was heard and the law was changed.

“We want to continue to live, survive and provide great jobs,” he added in an April 6 television interview at his Northport store. “To do that, we need to continue to make a profit.”

Alabama’s outdated delivery license system strains that ability to make a profit, say retailers throughout the state.

To compete in today’s marketplace and serve their customers, retailers can’t just sell to customers who live in the cities where they have stores. Customers living in nearby cities demand delivery from retailers that carry products at the price they want. To survive, most retailers also sell online, and their online customers expect delivery.

Yet under current law, in addition to requiring collection and remittance of sales taxes owed, each Alabama city where a retailer has no location requires a $100 delivery license if that retailer delivers in its own trucks. That license is required no matter the delivery’s value, even a penny’s worth of merchandise triggers the license mandate.

“It gets very tedious,” Shane said.

Alabama retailers with just a single store can deliver merchandise to as many as 30 different cities. That’s $3,000 in extra costs, even if the retailer only delivers one item to each of those 30 cities. In addition to the $100 license, cities add issuance fees, plus, if the retailer doesn’t buy the delivery license within 10 days, the cities tack on penalties and interest. All those extra fees can double the cost for the retailer.

Thanks to Shane Spiller and many other Alabama Retail Association members who spoke to their state legislators or who appeared in ARA-produced videos highlighting the issue, Alabama’s delivery license law is about to change.

Starting Aug. 1, retailers can deliver up to $10,000 in merchandise annually to a city before a $100 delivery license will be required.

The new law “opens up the door to help local, hometown stores,” Shane said.

The law, authored by Sen. Paul Sanford, R-Huntsville, and Rep. Paul Lee, R-Dothan, caps issuance fees and penalties at $10 each and limits interest rates. It also gives a business 45 days to get a delivery license once it reaches the $10,000 annual threshold.

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Story by Nancy King Dennis. Photo by Crosby Thomley.

This story first appeared in the
July 2017 issue of Alabama Retailer magazine.