published Saturday, August 10th, 2013

Georgia stores, shoppers take advantage of tax-free spending

Dia Perry, center, shops for clothes for her daughter Lacy Shadrick, 14, left, while her son Jake Perry, 7, watches during the weekend sales tax holiday Friday at Rugged Wearhouse in Fort Oglethorpe. School supplies and most clothing are exempt from sales tax in Georgia during the weekend tax holiday.
Dia Perry, center, shops for clothes for her daughter Lacy Shadrick, 14, left, while her son Jake Perry, 7, watches during the weekend sales tax holiday Friday at Rugged Wearhouse in Fort Oglethorpe. School supplies and most clothing are exempt from sales tax in Georgia during the weekend tax holiday.
Photo by Doug Strickland.

If You Shop

The tax holiday ends today at 11:59 p.m.

What's tax-free: Clothing (including footwear) that costs $100 or less per item, computers and tablets that cost less than $1,000 per item and school supplies for classroom use that cost less than $20 per item.

At the Walmart on Battlefield Parkway Friday afternoon, shoppers waited for a chance to get into six back-to-school aisles near the front of the store. They were hunting school supplies and banking on buying them tax free as part of Georgia's annual sales tax holiday.

Although store managers decided to pay five extra associates for Friday and today to keep the store stocked and customers happy, the North Georgia location still stands to wind up in the black.

William Venable, co-manager of the store, said Friday alone the store would make around $400,000. The same is expected today. That's about $100,000 more per day than on the average weekend, Venable said.

And shoppers hit the store as soon as the holiday went into effect, he said, swarming in around midnight through 3 a.m. Friday morning, when there are usually only around 20 shoppers in the store.

"What we end up seeing is a spike as soon as the sales tax [holiday] takes effect," he said. "That's a big difference between doing $500 in three hours versus $4,000 overnight."

Cindy Godsey, manager of Rugged Wearhouse on Battlefield Parkway, said the sales tax holiday is second only to Black Friday at her store. She said Tennessee shoppers also make the drive and take advantage of the shopping.

"It's big. It's huge," she said.

Catoosa County shoppers love the holiday, too. It's a break from the 7 percent sales tax they usually pay, and it comes right as most Georgia students head back to school. Many parents take advantage of the chance to save a little on school supplies, clothes and electronics.

"We make it a point to [school shop] at that time," Teresa Cross said Friday outside Rugged Wearhouse. Her son, Chris, is a junior at LaFayette High School this year. While he said it's just convenient, occurring at back-to-school time, mom said the dad of the family sent the two out to save some money.

"My husband said, 'Hey, it's tax-free weekend, go shopping now,'" she said.

Back at Walmart, other parents said the holiday isn't that big of a deal.

"I'd rather pay the money than fight the crowd," Selina Stone said. She has three school-age kids to buy for. They ended up shopping last week, partly because they accidentally thought that was the tax-free weekend, she said.

Stone and Cross both travelled to Fort Oglethorpe from Chickamauga, which, they said, is not fertile shopping grounds for such items.

"Well," Stone said, "there isn't anything in Chickamauga."

Contact staff writer Alex Green at agreen@timesfree press.com or 423-757-6731.

about Alex Green...

Alex Green joined the Times Free Press staff full-time in January 2014 after completing the paper's six-month, general assignment reporter internship. Alex grew up in Dayton, Tenn., which is also where he studied journalism at Bryan College. He graduated from Rhea County High School in 2008. During college, Alex covered the city of Graysville and the town of Spring City for The Herald-News. As editor-in-chief of Bryan College's student news group, Triangle, Alex reported on ...

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