ENERGY/HVAC

GDA acquires portion of Michigan power center

BY Al Urbanski

GDA Real Estate Services has purchased an 174,353-sq.-ft. portion of the Marketplace at Delta Township Lansing, Michigan, in a deal brokered by Mid-America Real Estate Corporation. The sale price was not disclosed.

Key tenants at the acquired property include Michael’s, Petsmart, Tractor Supply, and Ulta Beauty. It is shadow-anchored by Walmart and Lowes.

Ben Wineman and Carly Gallagher of Mid-America Real Estate Corporation, in cooperation with Daniel Stern of Mid-America-Michigan, acted on behalf of the seller, a public REIT.

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ECOMMERCE

Online retailers fight state sales tax directive

BY By Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Out-of-state Web-based retailers are taking a stand against paying sales tax in the state of Massachusetts.

According to a directive from the Department of Revenue, any online retailer vendor headquartered outside of the state is required to register, collect and remit sales tax. In Massachusetts, this is 6.25%. The directive applies to companies that sold more than $500,000 annually in the state and made sales for in-state delivery in 100 or more transactions.

The rule, called Department of Revenue Directive 17-1, will take hold on July 1. However, retailers are not going down without a fight.

Enlisting the help of NetChoice, a national trade association that represents online retailers, and the American Catalog Mailers Association, retailers are working to block the directive. Specifically, the team, which represents companies including PayPal and eBay, filed a motion in Massachusetts Superior Court stating that the directive is unconstitutional and violates the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA), a federal ban on Internet access taxes; the commerce clause, and the state’s own procedure for implementing regulations.

“The Massachusetts regulation blatantly violates Supreme Court precedent and the Internet Tax Freedom Act, a law Congress enacted specifically to stop states from imposing sales that discriminate against the Internet,” Steve DelBianco, executive director of NetChoice.

The groups also argue that the directive violates the ITFA because it “imposes an obligation on certain Internet vendors to collect and remit sales or use tax on electronic commerce that are not imposed on other vendors who do not or might make sales of similar goods and services” through other means, such as catalog or mail order, according to the filing.

The Department of Revenue upholds that the rule intends to provide a level playing field for Massachusetts retailers."Challenges are not unexpected, and the Department will work with the Attorney General’s Office to defend the directive,” said DOR spokeswoman Nicole St. Peter Mac Dermott.

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FINANCE

Survey: Lidl poses big competitive threat

BY By Marianne Wilson

Consumers are very excited about shopping at German discount grocer Lidl — even though they have never set foot inside one of the company's stores before.

Lidl's upcoming entry into North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia could remove $1 billion in local sales in the medium term, according to a report by global consulting firm Oliver Wyman which surveyed consumers in the three states cited above. It reveals that consumers are overwhelmingly excited about trying Lidl.

Sixty-seven percent (67%) of respondents say it is very likely that they will try shopping at Lidl, and 52% are very excited about shopping there. What's more, 39% say they would shop at Lidl once a week or more in the future. The high levels of trial and intent to return as a regular shopper were driven by their expectations of high quality and innovative new products, according to the report.

"Incumbent grocers need to take notice," said George Faigen, partner in the retail and consumer foods practice of Oliver Wyman. "The threat from Lidl is real and will only get clearer as their stores generate trial and repeat sales."

Grocers who believe my customers would not shop at Lidl or Aldi will likely be surprised, Faigen added. "The U.S. and European trends we have measured over the past five years tell a clear story of consumers moving portions of their weekly shopping from incumbent grocers to these private brand retailers," he said.

Key findings from the survey include:

*Even though none of the survey respondents had ever been to a Lidl store in the U.S.

*Contrary to commonly held industry wisdom, households at all ends of the income spectrum are excited about Lidl’s store openings. In fact, 49% of households with an annual income over $75,000 are excited about Lidl compared with an almost identical 48% of households earning less than $25,000 last year.

*There was particularly high excitement from consumers around Lidl’s new product offering and their highly awarded private brands. However, being unfamiliar with Lidl’s private brands was also one of the top concerns among respondents too.

*Whether consumers shopped at traditional, specialty, or regional grocers in the past, there is a very high interest in shopping at Lidl in the future.

*Consumers who already shop at Aldi are overall more excited and likely to try Lidl than non-Aldi shoppers.

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