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IKEA Will Try Selling Furniture Through Third-Party Websites

Another county town built on sales tax revenue is Vernon Hills, which also has no property tax. I don't hear officials there warning the sky is falling. At the same time the mayor was urging Gurnee residents to forgo using online shopping spots, she raised the specter of instituting a property tax for the village, noting more and more residents are using the ease of the internet for shopping. Gurnee and other towns receive a piddling of the 1 percent Illinois sales on online purchases. Considering that nearly all Big Box stores anchoring Gurnee shopping venues offer online shopping, it makes more sense to urge Illinois lawmakers to hike the online sales tax. Although if state lawmakers haven't been able to adopt a budget in 702 days, perhaps increasing the Internet sales tax might be a bit much to hope for. I have an inkling Gurnee residents like not having a property tax, even though the mayor every so many years brings up the threat of instituting one. That's a good way to lose citizen support at election time. But if Kovarik is worried about her chain retailers and the sales taxes they provide, she also is one of the lone voices in the wilderness alerting us to the impact online retailing is having on communities.

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E-commerce sales growth at Walmart U.S. was 63%, the company reported, with the majority organic through McMillon went on to note that continues to ramp up its selection of goods, and now has 50 million items for consumers to choose from compared to 10 million a year ago. Additionally, Wal-Mart recently introduced free two-day shipping for orders of $35 or more, and launched a new service that allows customers to order products online and receive a discount for picking them up at its stores. "We're moving faster to combine our digital and physical assets to make shopping easier and more enjoyable for customers," said McMillon during Wal-Mart's earnings call. Those efforts appear to be succeeding, as evidenced by Wal-Mart's explosive online growth and steady in-store traffic gains. Still, the investments Wal-Mart is making in its digital and store-improvement initiatives are weighing on its margins; first-quarter operating income fell 0.7% year over year to $5.2 billion. Despite the lower profits, Wal-Mart's cash generation remains strong, with the retail titan generating $5.4 billion in operating cash flow and $3.4 billion in free cash flow in the first quarter. That -- combined with the more than $6.5 billion in cash on its balance sheet -- allowed Wal-Mart to return $3.7 billion to shareholders via dividends and share repurchases. For the second quarter, Wal-Mart expects comparable-store sales growth (excluding fuel) of 1.5% to 2% for its U.S. locations and 1% to 1.5% at its Sam's Club locations.

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