published Monday, August 6th, 2012

Sales tax holiday spurs shopping frenzy

Natalie, Cathy, Guillermo and Juan Morales look at Apple laptops at MacAuthority on Sunday. A store manager said MacAuthority sold more than $1 million worth of computers and equipment during the tax-free weekend.
Natalie, Cathy, Guillermo and Juan Morales look at Apple laptops at MacAuthority on Sunday. A store manager said MacAuthority sold more than $1 million worth of computers and equipment during the tax-free weekend.
Photo by Allison Love.
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    Robert Williams shops for school supplies with his daughter Juliana, a rising fourth-grader at Brainerd Baptist on Sunday during the tax-free weekend. Target's sales this weekend were similar to sales during the holiday season, employees said.
    Photo by Allison Love.
    enlarge photo

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    Rachel Jones tries on rainboots as her brother, Kenneth, and mother, Jackie, browse through shoe selections at Target on Sunday during the tax-free weekend in Chattanooga.
    Photo by Allison Love.
    enlarge photo

GEORGIA TAX FREE WEEKEND

When: Friday-Saturday

What's exempt: Clothing items (including footwear) equal to or less than $100 each; computers and computer accessories (including storage devices, electronic book readers and printer cartridges) equal to or less than $1,000; school supplies equal to or less than $20.

Poll
Did you take advantage of Tennessee's tax-free weekend?

Rachel Farris bought more than she usually would this weekend.

Farris, 37, was finishing her back-to-school shopping at Target with her husband and two youngsters Sunday during the final day of Tennessee's tax-free weekend.

Farris said she bought a little more than normal because of the tax break.

"We usually buy [the kids] clothing in the fall, but we're probably going to purchase more than we normally would now because of the tax-free weekend," she said. "Instead of spreading it out over the course of months, we're purchasing it all now. Even if you've only saved $40, that's $40 you could spend on something else."

Technology topped many shoppers' lists as they took advantage of Tennessee's tax-free weekend, which began at midnight Friday and ended Sunday. Most clothing and school supplies under $100 per item, as well as computers under $1,500, were exempt from the normal 7 percent state tax, and the 2.25 percent local sales tax. Other items, including cosmetics, food and furnishings, were not exempt.

Robert Williams, who was at Target shopping with his daughter, Juliana, on Sunday, estimated he saved about $200 on his purchases, which included a computer, backpacks and assorted school supplies.

MacAuthority in Hamilton Place mall had about 30 customers milling around the store Sunday afternoon, but Assistant Manager John Whitely said the store was "dead" compared to the rest of the weekend.

"We're over $1 million [in sales] right now, and there's still daylight out," Whitely said. "We've seen thousands of people."

Whitely said he didn't notice any particular trends in shoppers' purchases for this year, but said many local schools were recommending students buy iPads for classes.

"Usually there's some sort of trend to an item, but we haven't seen that," he said. "There's a lot of families purchasing computers, a lot of kids getting iPads for school -- it's everything. It's literally across the board."

The National Retail Federation estimates that back-to-school spending will increase about 14 percent from last year, with clothing, electronics and accessories leading the expected purchases. Parents also are expected to spend more replenishing supplies such as backpacks after having children "make do" with older items for the past few years.

Some said the tax break didn't affect their spending at all. Jackie Jones, 44, was shopping for shoes with her children. She said she usually takes advantage of the tax-free weekend, but didn't spend more than normal.

"I don't want to buy too many clothes because when they're young they seem to shoot up fast, especially their feet," she said.

Stephanie Long, 37, estimated that she would spend about $25 on back-to-school supplies — much less than the national average of $688. Her main big-ticket item is a calculator for her son's algebra class, as well as basic supplies, she said.

"My list is not that long — the big thing is the calculator," Long said. "I think [my spending] has gone down quite a bit since my son started high school. I think it's less than elementary school kids."

about Rachel Bunn...

Rachel Bunn is originally from Ellijay, Ga., and graduated from the University of Georgia with degrees in magazines and history. While at UGA, she wrote for the student magazine UGAzine, served as news editor for the student newspaper, The Red & Black, and spent a semester studying British history at Oxford University in Oxford, England. She has previously worked at The Rockdale Citizen in Conyers, Ga., and The Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the ...

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