First the good news: Packages from Amazon should arrive faster than before, because Amazon right now has no physical operations here. (FedEx, UPS and the Postal Service do most of their deliveries.)
New warehouses in Tampa, Orlando, Miami or Jacksonville could cut delivery time by a day or two for some items because Amazon can start building and stocking local warehouses with everything from huge high-definition TVs to shoes. I’d look for same-day delivery of some items in some markets at some point soon.
The second bit of good news: This could put Florida in the running for Amazon’s hottest new service. That’s fresh grocery delivery of everything from cereal and milk to produce and meats — right to your front door.
Amazon first launched the “Amazon Fresh” grocery service in its hometown of Seattle, and recently expanded it to Los Angeles. It has a fleet of bright green delivery vans, and they’re ready to go.
Amazon announced a target of 40 more U.S. markets, which would put Tampa in the running for the service — whenever Amazon gets around to deploying here, which is less than clear.
Unfortunately, there is some bad news for shoppers. As of now, you can buy anything on Amazon and there’s no state sales tax. Buying a $10 book is one thing, but taxes add up fast when you’re looking at a $100 pair of running shoes or a $1,500 HDTV.
Local taxes can vary from 6 to 7 percent or more, depending on where you live. Amazon and its customers enjoy that tax-free perk because the company has no physical presence in the state. Third-party shipping companies do all the local deliveries, and Florida can’t tax a company that isn’t here.
That same tax-free perk also drives other retailers nuts because they can match Amazon’s prices online sometimes, but then at the moment of truth when the customer at BestBuy.com types in his or her credit card or a Walmart shopper reaches the store cash register — bam! — there’s the sales tax.
Once Amazon builds a set of warehouses and starts employing people here, the state can start requiring the company to collect and remit sales taxes.
Typically, when Amazon enters a new state with warehouses, it receives a few years respite to get up and going without collecting sales taxes. Exactly how this will play out in Florida isn’t clear, but the governor did tout 3,000 new jobs from Amazon.
“Amazon will begin collecting Florida Sales tax at such time as it is required under current Florida law,” Gov. Rick Scott’s office said in a statement.
County leaders are trying to bring at least one of the warehouses to the Hillsborough County area.
However, if you have something sitting on your Amazon wish list and don’t want to pay sales taxes, I suggest you order it ASAP.
In other retail, restaurant and trend news around town:
The detail, for sure, was insanely clear, especially on footage that Sony shot with 4K cameras to display on their 4K TVs. It makes other TVs look El Cheapo, and 4K TVs will “upscale” plain-old HD images into 4K detail.
But there’s one major drawback: Motion. The TVs are still so-called 120 Hz, which means the screen “refresh” is only so-so compared to an off-the-shelf $1,500 HDTV with 240 Hz, and the motion is nowhere near as smooth as basic plasma screens. All this for $5,000 for a 55-inch TV or $7,000 for a 65-inch.
Smart people in the TV world whom I respect say I should hold off judgment of a new technology, and the staff at Best Buy say the 4K TVs are selling like crazy. So clearly other people feel they’re worth the money.