Back-to-school shopping will kick into high gear this weekend when the state sales tax is lifted on school supplies, clothing and other items deemed exempt during South Carolina's 14th annual tax-free weekend.
Samples of tax-free items
Clothing and footwear
Linens such as towels and sheets
Computers, printers and software
Samples of taxable items
Furniture and housewares
Electronics such as cell phones, music players and cameras
To view the full list of items that are exempt and non-exempt of the state-imposed sales tax, visit the S.C. Department of Revenue's website at www.sctax.org
As one of the biggest shopping holidays in the state, the weekend-long break from the sales tax offers retailers a chance to boost sales and parents an opportunity to save money on necessities for kids heading back to school this month. The tax-free holiday will be in effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday until midnight Sunday.
Across the country, families with children will spend an estimated $635 on back-to-school items this year, according to a survey conducted by the National Retail Federation.
Margaux Corbin of Yonges Island said her budget for her grandchildren's school supplies is closer to $500. She shopped Wednesday in Target for clothes and other items but said she's waiting to buy school supplies this weekend.
“Listen, I pay enough taxes as it is. If I can get a break for a few days, I'm going to take advantage of it as much as I can,” Corbin said.
When one shopper was asked if she'd be participating in the tax-free holiday, she gave a surprised look and nodded as she began to put the kids' uniform clothes from her cart back on the racks.
Anna Bailey of West Ashley held her back-to-school shopping list in one hand as she pushed her half-full cart through Target's school supply section. Her goal was to finish buying supplies for her two children before the big shopping weekend started.
“I prefer to shop beforehand because I don't like all the crowds,” Bailey said. “I'm not buying any big-ticket items, so I wouldn't be saving enough money for it to be worth my time.”
Bailey added that she doesn't do as much back-to-school shopping as some parents because her child's school, Ashley River Creative Arts Elementary, offers a paid service that provides students with all the supplies they need for the school year.
“You're paying for convenience because you don't have to go out and look for all the different supplies,” she said.
Retailers, on the other hand, are pulling out all the stops to draw big crowds this weekend.
At Mount Pleasant Town Centre, shoppers can enter to win a backpack stuffed with hundreds of dollars in gift certificates to stores in the shopping center.
Town Centre will also offer a center-wide shopping rewards program over the weekend. Those who spend $250 across five stores will receive a $25 gift certificate that can be redeemed at shops, restaurants or the movie theater at the center.
“It's a great way for people who are shopping here to be rewarded for what they're buying.” said Erin Engebritson, marketing manager with the shopping center. “Plus, it encourages people to visit more than one store while they're out here.”
Engebritson said tax-free weekend was a success for Town Centre last year, and they hope to build upon that by offering extra incentives during this year's tax-free holiday.
Reach Abigail Darlington at 937-5581.