As Alabama’s retailers prepare to usher in a new year, they can close out 2016 with a bit of cautious optimism. According to a Dec. 27 report, economists, polled by Reuters, say consumer optimism about the economy increased to the highest level since August 2001. In Alabama, many retailers saw record-breaking crowds between Thanksgiving and Christmas, especially on Black Friday (Nov. 25) and Super Saturday (Dec. 23). While official numbers won’t be out until early February, Alabama Retail predicted the 2016 holiday shopping season to be the biggest on record for our state.
2016 also brought about other wins, particularly for brick-and-mortar retailers. To help you ring in 2017, here are the top retail-related stories of 2016.
- Amazon Now Collecting Sales Taxes Throughout Alabama: The world’s largest online-only retailer began collecting and remitting sales tax in Alabama on Nov. 1, giving Alabama retailers the chance to reclaim or gain customers. Alabama Revenue Commissioner Julie Magee estimated Alabamians would purchase as much as $200 million in merchandise from Amazon in November and December alone.
- Federal Court Puts Overtime Rule on Hold: With this temporary injunction in place, the Labor Department overtime rules that would drive up costs for retailers are now on hold. The injunction was issued just before the new rules were set to take effect on Dec. 1.
- Governor Signs Law Preempting Mandated Local Wages and Benefits: During Alabama’s 2016 legislative session, Gov. Robert Bentley signed a law preempting Birmingham’s $10.10 minimum wage ordinance as well as other similar local ordinances in the future.
- Alabama Retail Association Kicks Off Shop Alabama Campaign: In 2016, we launched a brand new initiative to encourage Alabamians to shop with and support local retailers. We expanded Shop Alabama over the holidays with a statewide tour, touting the benefits of keeping your holiday shopping dollars local.
- Legislature Approves Audit Abuse Reform: After ARA shared horror stories from local retailers about abuse from for-profit auditors, the Alabama Legislature required unregulated, for-profit auditors to make some improvements in their business model. As of Jan. 1, 2017, for-profit auditors in Alabama must present a signed and dated contract upon entering a business to perform an audit on behalf of a local government.