Georgia residents have not benefitted from a tax-free holiday since 2009. The shopping incentive was brought back this year in hopes of increased economic activity. While the event has attracted some criticism for coming after most schools start back, the managers of local major retailers are confident sales tax exemption will bring out the crowds.
“I think that without a doubt we’re going to see increased customer traffic from it. Just based on the current economy and especially when you look at how conscious our customers are in Bartow County, I think everyone is looking for a great bargain. So I think people have been waiting for this,” Cartersville Walmart Manager Sean Pratt said about the upcoming tax-free holiday. “When you combine that with the later school start dates with the county and the city, I think it will work out well for customers to take full advantage of it Friday and Saturday with school just starting this week. So I think you’ll see a great turnout.”
Pratt already has seen a lot of back-to-school shopping at the Cartersville store, especially following open house nights, but he again expects to see a surge of shoppers this weekend. The Cartersville Walmart has taken efforts to add convenience during what they hope is a busy weekend by identifying items within the store that qualify for sales tax exemption and providing school supply lists for both city and county schools.
Chuck Rushing, manager of the Hiram Kmart, also is preparing for increased traffic today and Saturday with stores, including the Cartersville Kmart, opening their doors early today at 7 a.m.
“We are expecting huge traffic because of the tax free [holiday]. The [back-to-school] shopping season is basically our second biggest shopping season, and consumers are going to spend over $250 this year to get their kids back to school. So we’re expecting to see a huge increase — a 14 percent increase — in sales this year. Between the sales that we’re having and the tax free [holiday], this is just going to add extra customers,” Rushing said, citing numbers from a study by the National Retail Federation.
Talking to parents in his store, Rushing bases his expectations on a consensus of shoppers waiting for the tax-free incentive before they make their purchases.
“What I’ve found just from talking to most of our customers, is that they are going to wait until the tax free starts to buy the bulk of their school supplies. They get their shopping lists when they go to school the first day, but most of the consumers are planning on buying maybe even the bulk of their supplies for the entire year during this two-day window,” Rushing said.
During the Aug. 10-11 sales tax holiday, the following items will be exempt:
• Clothing and footwear with a sales price of $100 or less per item;
• A single purchase, with a sales price of $1,000 or less, of personal computers and personal computer-related accessories; and
• General school supplies to be used in the classroom or in classroom-related activities with a sales price of $20 or less per item.
The exemption does not apply to:
• Clothing accessories, jewelry, handbags, umbrellas, eyewear, watches, watchbands, cellular devices, furniture, computer-related accessories designed for recreational use, items used in a trade or business or for resale, or rentals; or
• Sales in theme parks, entertainment complexes, public lodging establishments, restaurants, or airports.