By CLINT FOSTER
It’s that time of year again. That joyous time for students known as summer vacation is quickly drawing to a close.
It won’t be long before parents will have to scramble to find their kids all of the various supplies and other necessities they might need as the school year starts anew once again. And one of the most popular times to get these items has always been tax-free weekend. But make sure you know when tax-free weekend is this year before you go to your favorite store expecting a hefty back-to-school discount.
This year, a change in state law has moved the annual holiday that slashes sales tax to an earlier date – the weekend of Aug. 9-11. Families could expect to save an average of $8.25 per $100 spent on qualifying items during this year’s sales.
Texas Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, was responsible for the law changing tax-free weekend.
He said the move was an attempt to make the month of August easier on the Dallas apparel market, when retailers are preparing to buy inventory for the next season. Houston-area schools also start earlier this year, so Ellis said he wanted to give parents of those students plenty of time to shop.
The list of tax-free items is the same as it was in 2012. The State Comptroller’s website, http://www.window.state.tx.us/taxinfo/taxpubs/taxholiday/d/, has listings and information on the sales tax holiday.
Typically, items must be less than $100 to qualify. Some examples of items exempt from sales tax include school supplies, backpacks and clothes.
Non-essential items such as jewelry or purses are still taxed.
For most families heading back to school, it would appear clothes are just as important – if not more important – than school supplies. According to the United States Census Bureau, $8.5 billion was spent at family clothing stores last August compared to a total of $2 billion at bookstores.
Assistant Manager of Beall’s in Mineral Wells, Ahuisol Garcia, said tax-free weekend is second only to Christmas time in the amount of money generated for their store.
“It’s really an important weekend for us business-wise,” she said. “Basically, next to Walmart, we’re it. A lot of our customers come specifically for shoes. So, our shoe department... really pops up there on tax-free weekend.”
Garcia said Beall’s is offering multiple special offers this month in conjunction with back-to-school sales. One of the biggest is a buy-one-get-one-half-off offer in the shoe department.
“We have coupon booklets that we were passing out that’s 20 percent off your purchase,” she added. “Right now in our juniors department, we have buy-one-get-one on everything. The children’s department has its own sales, and they’re having some great sales: 40-50-60-70 percent mark downs.”
Manager of the local VF Outlet, Terry Randle said that tax-free weekend is by far their most lucrative time of year, significantly more so than Christmas. He said that they, too, will have a special offer this month that he hopes will help customers out.
“Basically if they buy two pairs of jeans, they get one item free that’s equal to or less than the cheapest pair of jeans they buy,” he said. “We’re trying to help them out with this economy and everything.”
Both Beall’s and VF Outlet are stocking their shelves to prepare for the coming swarm of customers. They anticipate the weekend will be just as successful as in years past.
“It’s a big weekend for us,” Randle said. “We’re packing the store out and getting everything in, getting it ready for our busiest week of the year.”
The Cleburne Times-Review contributed to this article
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