Amazon and other online retailers are getting hit after the Supreme Court rules that states can collect taxes on internet sales

  • The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that states may require online retailers to collect sales taxes.
  • Shares of Amazon, Overstock.com, Etsy, Wayfair, and other retailers fell after the ruling was announced.
  • Only five states do not collect a statewide sales tax.

Shares of Amazon and other online retailers fell Thursday morning after the Supreme Court ruled that states could require tax collection on digital sales.

Here's the scoreboard:

Thursday's decision in the case of South Dakota v. Wayfair overturns a 1992 ruling that said retailers could be required to collect state sales taxes only in sales in states where the retailers had a physical presence.

"The Internet revolution has made Quill's original error all the more egregious and harmful," Justice Anthony Kennedy said in delivering the opinion. "Quill Court did not have before it the present realities of the interstate marketplace, where the Internet's prevalence and power have changed the dynamics of the national economy. The expansion of e-commerce has also increased the revenue shortfall faced by States seeking to collect their sales and use taxes, leading the South Dakota Legislature to declare an emergency."

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7 shock-worthy facts about Amazon
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7 shock-worthy facts about Amazon
7.5 percent of Seattle's working-age population are Amazon employees

Amazon has more than 300,000 employees worldwide, and 40,000 in Seattle alone.

As a portion of the city's working-age population — roughly 528,000 — that comes out to 7.5% of the city working at Amazon.

For perspective, if the same portion of New York City's adults worked for one company, that company would have about 488,000 locals on staff.

Amazon accounts for 43% of all online sales

Amazon used to be a way to buy books online; today, it's the default buying site for just about everything, especially for people who have Amazon Prime.

An analysis by Slice Intelligence released in February found that 43% of all US online retail sales were done through Amazon in 2016.

That's up from 33% in 2015 and 25% in 2012.

1 out of every 4 US adults has Amazon Prime.

Speaking of Amazon Prime, the company now counts approximately 63 million people among its subscriber base, or about 25% of the total US adult population.

That number may underestimate the true coverage, however, since it doesn't account for multiple adults in one household all sharing the same Prime account.

Amazon ships 1.6 million packages a day

Amazon fulfillment is a beast of its own.

A report from 2013 (the latest year for which data are available) found Amazon shipped 608 million packages that year, or 1.6 million packages a day.

As of 2015, Amazon estimated its fulfillment centers were within 20 miles of 31% of the US population, and within 20 miles of 50-65% of its core, same-day-accessible market.

That's enough cardboard to span all of West Virginia

A back-of-the-envelope calculation reveals all those packages (not including padded envelopes) yield roughly 26,400 square miles of cardboard.

The total land area of West Virginia, meanwhile, is just north of 24,000 square miles.

Given the speed of Amazon's shipments, the company could blanket the whole US in cardboard in about five months.

45,000 robots roam the floors of Amazon's warehouses

To help those shipments leave the warehouses on time, Amazon relies on a growing fleet of autonomous robots that fetch packages from their shelves and bring them to human employees.

The 45,000 robots live across 20 fulfillment centers in the US. In 2016, the company increased the fleet 50% from its prior head count of 30,000.

Amazon is more valuable than all major brick-and-mortar retailers combined

The sum total of those investments in infrastructure and supply chain management have made Amazon by far the most valuable retailer in the United States.

Amazon's $356 billion valuation is so big, it's larger than Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, Macy's, Kohl's, JCPenney, and Sears combined.

With the recent acquisition of Whole Foods, there are no signs the retailer has any plans of slowing down.

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Only five states do not have a state-wide sales tax: Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon. Alaska and Montana allow individual cities to collect local sales taxes, according to the Tax Foundation.

The 5-4 ruling is widely seen as a victory for brick-and-mortar stores, which previously said online retailers' ability to avoid sales-tax collection gave them an advantage. States also argued against the previous statute, saying it reduced their potential revenue from sales taxes as more consumers turned to digital shopping options.

President Donald Trump has also criticized Amazon, whose founder, Jeff Bezos, also owns The Washington Post, saying the online retailer does not collect any sales tax. Even before the Supreme Court's ruling, however, Amazon had said it was moving to collect state sales taxes on its inventory sold in all 45 states with statewide taxes.

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