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Wal-Mart leads the pack - again.

WAL-MART STORES INC., the nation's largest retailer with headquarters in Bentonville, had estimated revenues of $1.044 billion in Arkansas in 1991, topping the list of state general merchandise retailers.

Arkansas Business compiled the 1991 estimated gross revenues for the state's top 25 general merchandise retailers by studying records of the 2 percent discount paid by the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration.

Beginning in 1988, the 2 percent discount has been paid to state businesses that remit their monthly sales tax collections by the 20th of the following month. By dividing the discount a company receives by 2 percent, and then dividing that total by 4.5 percent for the state sales tax, an estimate can be made for a company's revenues.

Sears Roebuck & Co. is second among the retailers doing business in Arkansas, ahead of Little Rock-based Dillard Department Stores Inc. Sears has the same number of stores in Arkansas as Dillard's (seven) but has many more catalog outlets in the state.

"I'm a little surprised that Sears is rated above Dillard's," says John W. Cole, an instructor of marketing at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. "But Sears does have a lot of catalog stores in Arkansas."

There are five building supply companies among the top 25 retailers -- National Home Centers Inc. of Springdale, Lowe's Cos. of North Wilkesboro, N.C., Ridout Lumber Co. of Searcy, OneSource Home and Building Centers of Little Rock and McCoy's Building Supply Centers of San Marcos, Texas.

"Those building supply stores sell so many different things now, from doghouses to dishwashers to carpeting," says Cole, who owns a men's clothing store in Fayetteville. "They are almost general merchandisers now."

One of the top retailers among the top 25 has no stores in Arkansas. Avon Products Inc. of New York is a direct sales company that specializes in cosmetics.

"I'm not surprised that Avon is included," Cole says. "When you talk about the whole state of Arkansas and the amount of income that all these folks will derive going door to door and house to house, it's not surprising at all."

Not Exact

Because of many variables, the revenue figures for 1991 almost certainly are not exact, according to John Theis, chief counsel for the Revenue Division of the Department of Finance and Administration.

The 2 percent discount is paid on all sales tax collected in the state. Because local and county sales taxes vary dramatically in Arkansas, it is impossible to determine exact revenue figures. For the ranking of the top companies, Arkansas Business used a conservative sales tax figure of 4.5 percent, the amount of the state sales tax.

Theis also explains that sales tax is not collected on interstate sales and on sales to businesses that will resell the merchandise. For example, much of the merchandise sold by any of the four Sam's Clubs is to small companies that then sell products to their customers and collect the sales tax.

"It is my understanding that if Wal-Mart puts in a Sam's store, they are going to shoot for $50 million to $60 million in volume for each location," Cole says.

Theis says there are about 60 exemptions from the sales tax laws in Arkansas.

"A taxpayer may sell an item that qualifies for any one of those 60 exemptions," Theis says. "Those would not appear in the taxable sales.

"A business' level of exempt sales will determine whether the 2 percent discount is an accurate reflection of their total gross receipts."

Theis notes that not every business reports its sales tax by the 20th of the month, which is necessary to receive the 2 percent discount. Some businesses may retain the sales tax receipts until the last day of the month.

In addition, many companies have multiple sales tax permit numbers. If those sales tax permits are listed in a name other than that of the corporation, the 2 percent discount would not be included in the information to determine the total estimated revenues.
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:earnings of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
Author:Smith, David (American novelist)
Publication:Arkansas Business
Article Type:Industry Overview
Date:Dec 7, 1992
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