published Sunday, July 29th, 2012

Parents prepare for Georgia back-to-school

Georgia tax holiday

When: Aug. 10-11

What’s eligible: General school supplies, clothing worth $100 or less and computers and computer accessories

Tennessee tax holiday

When: Friday-Sunday

What’s eligible: Clothing (individual items priced $100 or less); school supplies (other than computer supplies. Individual items priced $100 or less); computers ($1,500 or less, but not individual parts or software)

ATLANTA — For the first time since 2009, Georgia will offer shoppers a tax holiday on back-to-school goods next month.

The back-to-school shopping season is among the busiest of the year, taking a back seat only to Christmas, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The National Retail Federation estimates that parents with schoolchildren will spend about $690 on clothes, electronics and school supplies. That is an increase of $85 from last year’s average.

In Georgia, the tax holiday on Aug. 10-11 suspends the sales tax on general school supplies, clothing worth $100 or less and computers and computer accessories.

Amy Hemphill, who lives in Gainesville, said she plans to shop during the tax holiday even though her son, a high school senior, will return to school before it starts.

“I’ll let him get through a week and get some things then,” she said.

Georgia first offered a two-day sales tax holiday timed for the back-to-school season in 2002 along with another tax holiday earlier in the year. It eventually evolved into a four-day event. State leaders ended that tradition during the last recession as Georgia’s tax revenue plunged. The sales tax holidays were reinstated this year by Gov. Nathan Deal and state lawmakers, including legislators who said Georgia businesses were losing back-to-school sales to stores in neighboring states that offer tax holidays.

Darryl Peck, a retailer with the PeachMac chain that sells Apple computers and other devices, said the back-to-school season is bigger than even the deluge of shopping that happens on the Friday after Thanksgiving. He said compressing the sales tax holiday into two days will mean the volume of shoppers in his stores will be heavier than at the start of the Christmas shopping season.

This year’s shopping season could be difficult for stores, said Marshal Cohen, chief retail analyst for NPD Group. He said shoppers are more likely to wait until after school has started to do their buying and may shop at different stores over several months. He said a tax holiday could encourage customers to shift the timing of their spending.

Some stores are offering special sales during the sales tax holiday to boost sales. Other retailers are reminding their customers about the holiday.

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