John Lewis boss rejects idea of ‘Amazon tax’

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Sir Charlie Mayfield, the managing director of John Lewis has rejected the idea of an ‘Amazon tax’ urging struggling high street businesses to ‘adapt’ rather than call for a levy on online sales. Writing in the Daily Mail he argues that the idea isn’t attractive or workable and won’t solve the problems experienced by some businesses on the high street.

Rather, struggling business should adapt to new trends and develop their own online offering to take advantage of the effectiveness of a ‘bricks and clicks’ approach, he argues.

The so-called Amazon tax first made headlines last month when it was mooted by the Chancellor of the exchequer Philip Hammond. But since then no details have emerged. Mayfield is one of the few retail bosses who has spoken up on the proposal. Obviously John Lewis is a highly successful offline retailer and includes Waitrose amongst its familiar brands. But it has also been a trailblazer with online retail too and has successfully adapted to ecommerce, making a particular success of click & collect.

There are two particular problems with the idea of an ‘Amazon tax’. The first is how such a tax would be levied and assessed. Would it apply to items bought online and then collected in store, for instance? And, perhaps most worryingly, it would hit small businesses very hard. No firm should be calling on the playing field to be levelled by levying a tax on competitors.

Whilst ‘Amazon bashing’ is currently a popular pastime as the ecommerce behemoth grows and is, seemingly, unstoppable in its growth, marketplace merchants are usually over-looked. It strikes Tamebay as perverse to essentially penalise thriving small business who have made a success of online retail. And a tax on online sales, in any case, is unlikely to hurt Amazon much either. With any luck, the idea will fade and never come to pass.

3 Responses

  1. As ever, the inability of government ministers to stop doing things that just look as if they are doing something, as opposed to understanding the nub of the problem and intervening effectively, is most ably demonstrated by a Cabinet member, whose sole interest is jumping on the latest bandwagon that is to berate Amazon. The fact that his Exchequer cannot even manage to extract a fair slice of tax from this behemoth is something that concerns neither he nor his equally disreputable colleagues. They prefer to continue to cripple small businesses.

  2. I don’t know why it keeps getting called an ‘Amazon tax’, it is an internet tax. Although it would hit me, I think it is something to seriously consider. Tax needs to come from somewhere for hospitals, schools etc – business rates bring in £50bn+ (UK), but that’s reducing as the high street withers away.

    Needs properly figuring out, but I’d properly welcome it, as long as it applied to my competitors too.

  3. Large department stores such as John Lewis often offer a click and collect option, or for those buying in store, a collection point so that you can collect your purchases when leaving the shop.
    I feel these High Street retailers are missing a trick or two in their battle to make bricks and mortar shopping more appealing to consumers.
    I like to go shopping in town and to buy when I’m there, but would prefer if they could allow me to pay for the items and choose to have them delivered. That would allow me to carry on shopping, unencumbered and would probably encourage me to spend more and enjoy my shopping experience even more, knowing that I didn’t have to lug my purchases to the train or car at the end of the day.. I would be more than happy to pay for this option. I’m sure I’m not alone..



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