For anyone who hasn’t visited those aisles yet but needs to, this weekend is the perfect time to get that back-to-school shopping done.
Friday, the sixth-annual sales-tax holiday for back-to-school shoppers kicks off at 12:01 a.m., and many of those back-to-school purchases can be made tax-free, or in Oxford, nearly tax-free. Oxford did exempt its regular 4-cent sales and use tax for the weekend, but did not lift its 1-cent education sales tax.
The tax holiday is an annual boon for shoppers, but Georgia decided not to have its back-to-school tax holiday for the second year in a row, citing the lost revenue as the reason.
However, Jarrod Simmons, assistant finance director for the city of Anniston, said as far as he knows there have been no studies on how the weekend affects sales-tax revenue. But just judging by the tax revenue the city has gotten since the tax holiday was established, it’s probably been a wash for the city, Simmons said.
“What you hope happens when people come out and they go out to buy their school supplies is that they’re also purchasing things that aren’t exempt,” Simmons said. “They’re out shopping. They’re out in the stores. They’re out in the restaurants. They’re out spending money; driving around so they’re spending gas money, too.”
The economy has been affecting the revenue probably more than the tax-free weekend, he said. In 2006 and 2007, the month of August tax revenue was up. But revenue fell in 2008 and 2009 as the economy soured, Simmons said. The state’s tax revenue was only down in August 2009, he added.
Simmons is hoping Georgia’s lack of a tax holiday will have an affect on the city’s revenue this weekend by tempting shoppers from over the state line to Anniston.
“Hopefully, as close as we are to the border, we’re going to see some of that traffic,” Simmons said. “Whether it makes it all the way here, we’ll have to wait and see.”
Martin’s Department Store operations manager Mike Manos said the tax holiday weekend brings out scores of shoppers, making the tax-free weekend rival the weekend after Thanksgiving in volume for the store.
“What we’ve found in our business, and I think it would be pretty similar in all retail businesses, back-to-school shopping with the tax-free weekend condenses a lot of people’s shopping down to just three days where it used to be spread over several weeks,” Manos said.
Since many people will be doing most or all of their back-to-school shopping during the tax holiday, it is important for the store to bring those customers in this weekend, he said. That has meant special sales, which increase the savings for buyers, and increased advertising for the weekend to let the customers know about the sales.
Nearly everything Martin’s carries is tax-exempt this coming weekend, but the biggest sellers are shoes, denim, young men’s clothing and junior’s clothing, all back-to-school purchases, Manos said.
Alabama exempts articles of clothing up to $100, a single computer purchase of up to $750, computer software and supplies, school supplies such as paper, pens, binders and calculators costing $50 or less and books costing $30 or less.