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One Bag Wonder winner revealed

BY HBSDealer Staff

The winner was a “Ghost Table.” Second place was a mid-century lamp. Third-place was an outdoor fountain. And the common ingredient: concrete.

The Quikrete One Bag Wonder 2.0 contest brought these concrete projects to life, as well as many others, on the road to promoting and supporting the idea of DIY concrete projects. Winners. As the title suggests, the contest is in its second year.

“The project ideas people brought to life with just one bag of Quikrete through this contest is truly amazing,” said Frank Owens, VP of marketing for The Quikrete Companies. “The creativity, craftsmanship and quality of all the submissions really made selecting the winners difficult, but I think the design, technical execution and finished product of the top three helped them narrowly edge out some of the other competitors.”

First place received $2,500, second place received $1,500 and third place received $500.

The One Bag Wonder contest was judged by members of Quikrete, HomeMade Modern, an online resource for smart modern home furnishing ideas, and the Home Projects Council, a think tank of home improvement experts. 

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Retailers speak up against online sales tax bill

BY HBSDealer Staff

The National Retail Federation isn't too crazy about a bill that would block states from requiring online retailers to collect sales tax — a move that would widen the gap between brick-and-mortar and e-commerce.

As such, the NRF is asking a House committee to reject the measure. “As online sales become a larger percentage of total retail sales, it is imperative that policymakers recognize that … government should not favor remote sales over sales made in a bricks-and-mortar store,” NRF Senior Vice President for Government Relations David French said.

“H.R. 2887 would exacerbate the current discrimination against local bricks-and-mortar retailers and lead to a further decline of Main Street retailers,” French said. “”H.R. 2887 goes in the opposite direction of fairness.”

These comments were part of a letter sent to members of the House Judiciary Committee, which is holding a subcommittee hearing this morning on the No Regulation Without Representation Act, sponsored by Representative James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis.

The Sensenbrenner bill would bar states from requiring that out-of-state online sellers collect sales tax on sales made to their residents. This is reminiscent of a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said sellers can only be required to collect sales tax in states where they have a physical presence.

In contrast, a series of bills have been introduced in Congress over the past 15 years that would allow states to require online sellers to collect sales tax, regardless of whether they have a physical presence — ultimately leveling the playing field with local stores. The NRF urged that the committee hold a hearing on the current House version of those bills, the Remote Transactions Parity Act, sponsored by Representative Kristi Noem, R-S.D. The bill also requires states that want to participate to simplify their sales tax laws and offers audit protection sought by smaller retailers.

“This legislation provides parity at the point of sale, so essential to the need of Main Street America,” French said. 

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Consumer confidence hits a 16-year high

BY HBSDealer Staff

Consumers seem to be feeling good about the labor market, because The Conference Board reported a consumer confidence index in July that set a new 16-year record.

The index reached 121.1 in July, beating what economists polled by Reuters expected would be a decline to 116.5. This is compared to June's reading of 117.3.

“Consumer confidence increased in July following a marginal decline in June,” said Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “Consumers’ assessment of current conditions remained at a 16-year high (July 2001, 151.3) and their expectations for the short-term outlook improved somewhat after cooling last month. Overall, consumers foresee the current economic expansion continuing well into the second half of this year.”    

The Present Situation Index increased from 143.9 to 147.8, with those saying business conditions are “good” increasing from 30.6 percent to 33.3 percent, while those saying business conditions are “bad” virtually unchanged at 13.5 percent. Those stating jobs are “plentiful” rose from 32.0 percent to 34.1 percent, while those claiming jobs are “hard to get” decreased slightly from 18.4 percent to 18.0 percent

Meanwhile, the Expectations Index rose from 99.6 last month to 103.3. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months increased from 20.1 percent to 22.9 percent, while those expecting business conditions to worsen declined from 10.0 percent to 8.2 percent.

The proportion expecting more jobs in the months ahead was unchanged at 19.2 percent, but those anticipating fewer jobs decreased from 14.6 percent to 13.3 percent. However, the percentage of consumers expecting an improvement in their income declined moderately from 20.9 percent to 20.0 percent, while the proportion expecting a decline increased from 9.3 percent to 10.0 percent.

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