"Dog Days" draws crowds despite report of declining tax revenue
COLUMBIA - Despite reports that sales tax revenue is on the declines in Columbia, the Dog Days Sidewalk Sale drew people downtown Saturday.
The Dog Days Sidewalk Sale is an annual event in which downtown Columbia store owners showcase items to encourage local spending.
In the 2016 annual budget proposal released earlier this week, City Manager Mike Matthes wrote:
"Sales tax pays for many of the services our community relies on: road and sidewalk repair, the bus system, the airport, parks, police, fire and nearly everything else outside of City utilities. Without the authority to tax online sales, we will continue to lose resources that would otherwise pay for all the services listed above."
Downtown store owner Lisa Klenke said if people are spending money in Columbia, they are supporting the local economy.
"If the general public was more educated about where our sales tax goes, what we get from it, how important it is to sustain our lifestyle in Columbia that they might be more willing to buy it here and not shop online," Klenke said.
Below are the exact amounts sales tax in the area. Matthes included the data in the budget proposal.
Below is a chart, which was included in the budget proposal, that depicts the estimated loss in salex tax dollars due to E-commerce.
Klenke said she has seen customers in her store compare her prices to prices online in hopes of getting a better deal.
"Online sales does not only hurt our local economy because they take away sales tax revenue,they also hurt our small businesses," Klenke said.
While people in town were physically there and shopping around, the business owner said she fears every time someone is on their phone in her store, they're looking for the same product online. Klenke said she believes educating people in Columbia about the benefits of buying things locally may change people from buying products online.
"I don't know if a sidewalk sale improves community awareness about shopping locally," Klenke said. "I think we have a lot of customers that come downtown that haven't been into our store before and that maybe their first introduction. And that's probably true of all of our great events downtown."
The sidewalk sale ran Thursday to Sunday.