Trump Accuses Amazon of Doing 'Great Damage' to Retailers

Image: Jeff Bezos speaks during the 32nd Space Symposium
Jeff Bezos, chief executive officer of Inc. and founder of Blue Origin LLC, speaks during the 32nd Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado on April 12, 2016.Matthew Staver / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

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By Lucy Bayly

President Donald Trump lambasted Amazon on Twitter early Wednesday morning, accusing the e-commerce juggernaut of causing job losses throughout the U.S. and doing “great damage” to retailers.

Amazon shares dipped briefly by 1 percent.

It’s certainly not the first time the president has assailed the Seattle-based behemoth, with CEO and founder Jeff Bezos — who also owns the Washington Post — frequently being singled out for having, as Trump termed it, “a huge anti-trust problem.”

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The billionaires bickered throughout Trump's presidential campaign, with Trump saying Amazon was “getting away with murder tax-wise” and accused it of using the Washington Post as a way to cozy up to politicians.

Last December, he said the e-retailer would “crumble [sic] like a paper bag” if it ever had to pay “fair taxes.” Bezos, who also owns the Blue Origin space company, fired back, “Will still reserve him a seat on the Blue Origin rocket #sendDonaldtospace.”

In February last year, then-candidate Trump attacked Amazon at a Texas rally, telling the crowd, "Believe me, if I become president, oh, do they have problems, they are going to have such problems.”

He also railed on the company in June, again accusing Bezos's empire of shirking tax responsibilities.

While there is no such thing as an “internet taxes,” there is a sales tax that e-commerce sites must pay in states where they have a physical presence. With Amazon’s nationwide network of fulfillment centers, the company now collects taxes in all 45 states that have a sales tax.

Yet tax avoidance is an issue that has dogged Amazon for years. Although the company currently has a $460 billion valuation, it claims to have low profits due to its "highly competitive, low-margin business."

After Trump won the election, Bezos softened his stance towards the billionaire businessman and president-elect, wishing him "great success" and offering him "my most open mind."

Bezos even joined other tech titans, including Apple CEO Tim Cook and Microsoft's Satya Nadella, at a June White House meeting to discuss how to make government systems run more efficiently. A photo from that event was widely circulated, prompting much mirth on social media.

While the national retail landscape continues to depopulate amid the growth of online shopping, not everyone is ready to write off the brick-and-mortar experience — Amazon itself opened a seventh physical book store in June.

“I don’t think [retail] is dead. It needs a facelift,” Joseph Hancock, a professor of retail at Drexel University, told NBC News. “Retailers really need to think outside the box on how they want to appeal to consumers to get them back into the malls.”