Cover ImageCivic Economics has produced a long string of studies on the economics of local retail and service businesses.  Thanks to years of collaboration with business organizations around the nation, the importance of independent, locally-owned business has become Retail Studies Composedconventional wisdom around the world.

On January 24 in Denver, Civic Economics and longtime partner the American Booksellers Association released Amazon and Empty Storefronts, which we believe will be a highly influential addition to the series.

In Empty Storefronts, we estimated the fiscal and land use impacts of Amazon for the nation and each state.  Though too many states still do not collect sales taxes on Amazon transactions, great progress has been made in the name of tax fairness.  Less well understood is the displacement of retail activity from traditional storefronts, pulling retail space and jobs out of American communities.  Perhaps most pressingly, this displacement produces an almost invisible property tax revenue loss impacting every community and school district in the nation.

At the study site, you’ll find a Complete Report and an Executive Summary available for download, as well as state summary sheets for each state and the District of Columbia.


In 2014, Amazon sold $44.1 billion worth of retail goods nationwide, all while avoiding $625 million in state and local sales taxes.

These sales are the equivalent of 31,000 retail storefronts or 107 million square feet of commercial space, which might have paid $420 million in property taxes.

A total of more than $1 billion in revenue is lost to state and local governments, $8.48 for every household in America.

Amazon also operated 65 million square feet of distribution space, employing roughly 30,000 full-time workers and 104,000 part-time and seasonal workers.

Even counting all the jobs in Amazon distribution centers, Amazon sales produced a net loss of 135,973 retail jobs nationwide.