5 On Your Side

Raleigh Ranked No. 3 City For Online Shopping

Posted November 28, 2003

— When it comes to Internet shopping, Raleigh rates as the No. 3 city in the nation.

A recent survey conducted by America Online showed that Raleigh residents do more online shopping than all but two other cities: No. 1 Nashville, Tenn., and No. 2 Los Angeles.

Raleigh online consumers spend an average of $265.10 a month with Internet retailers, making an average of 6.7 online purchases per month.

Those numbers represent a huge increase over last year, when Raleigh did not make the AOL "Online Cities" list.

The top reasons given for shopping online were: "easier to comparison shop" (27 percent), followed by "I hate crowds and malls" (24 percent), and "I find better deals online" (12 percent). The report is based on a survey of nearly 8,000 adults conducted by Digital Marketing Services Inc.

For Brandon Garland, cyberspace offers something the malls do not -- convenience.

"If you can find it online, you can order it, have it shipped, and you don't have to fight crowds," Garland said. "You can be done, with a high-speed Internet connection, in three minutes."

But it may not be that easy when it comes to paying sales tax on what you buy. In-state retailers are required to add sales tax to online purchases. But for out-of-state retailers, it's different.

Certified Public Accountant Alexander Guess said the consumer-use tax is the same, whether consumers buy an item online, by phone, or travel to another state and have it shipped. Consumers are supposed to file it on their personal income tax return at the end of the year.

"I advise all my clients to keep a little folder," Guess said, "and as you're purchasing things throughout the year, either online or from out of state, put the receipts in your folder."

For people who do not have their receipts, or cannot remember their purchases, the state has a formula, using a percentage of their income. Whatever it is, many cybershoppers say it is worth it to avoid the crowd at malls.


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