With gas prices, unemployment rates, and temperatures on the rise, Scotland County residents can catch a break this weekend on purchases of clothing, school supplies, and computers.
The state’s annual sales tax holiday will begin at 12:01 a.m. on Friday and end at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday. Items that will be sold tax-free include clothing, footwear, and school supplies priced at $100 or less per item, sporting goods of $50 or less per item, and computers priced at $3,500 or less.
The holiday brings a windfall for retail establishments as well as a break for shoppers’ wallets, as many retailers see an influx of customers over the three-day period.
“We always see more business,” said Angela McLean, associate manager at Laurinburg’s Big Lots. “We’re busy on the weekends, but on tax-free its more like double.”
Belk Department Store in Laurinburg will have all hands on deck to assist the larger crowds expected this weekend.
“I’m positive that we will see an increase in business,” said sales manager Linda Lopez. “We staff all that we have that weekend; we’ll all be working.”
Tablet computers and netbooks qualify for the tax break, but eReaders will not. School and college textbooks and workbooks and other instructional materials with a sales price of $300 or less per item are also eligible.
Although many will take the opportunity to stock up on school supplies and refresh their back-to-school wardrobes, items of apparel such as formal wear, bathing attire, and wedding apparel are also eligible for tax-free status.
When calculating the price of discounted items to determine if they qualify as tax-free, rebates and manufacturers’ coupons do not affect the sales price, but retailers’ coupons do.
Overall, according to the N.C. Retail Merchants’ Association, the holiday will increase state revenues by boosting sales in shopping center food courts and increased payroll taxes from the event. During the 2010 tax-free weekend, major retailers statewide added 8,300 payroll hours during the three-day event.
“Without this weekend, the state’s business climate will suffer significantly as our residents will travel across state lines to shop tax-free weekends in other states,” said Andy Ellen, NCRMA president. “The retail business community always sees a significant increase in sales on Sales Tax Holiday weekend due to the the savings customers receive on specials offered by retailers, particularly on big-ticket items such as computers. This weekend is a great shot in the arm for retailers – both independents and chains - who are the largest private employers in North Carolina.”