Tax-free weekend expected to be a boon to local retailers

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By Sarah Wilson, Reporter

Several local retailers are looking forward to a lucrative weekend Aug. 6-8 as families take advantage of the state’s “sales tax holiday” savings opportunity to buy new clothes, new notebooks, pens and pencils and laptops.

The tax-free weekend begins at 12:01 a.m. Friday and will last through 11:59 p.m. Sunday, offering a “holiday” from the state’s 6.75 percent sales tax rate on specific school-related items.

South Carolina is also having a tax-free weekend at the same time.

Office Depot in Shallotte is expecting good business this year, according to assistant manger Pete Bottiglieri.

“We’re expecting a big turnout—better than last year, the way things have been going,” Bottiglieri said.

Back-to-school shoppers ready to stock up on all sorts of supplies will “probably start about 7:30 in the morning,” he said. But the main attraction every year, he said, is laptop computers—the least expensive ones available—for new college students.

At Belk department store in Shallotte, operations and special events manager Kathy Callison is gearing up for a crowd of shoppers looking for back-to-school outfits, particularly denim and T-shirts.

“The biggest sellers are always denim,” she said.

“Juniors love the longer tees with vests, and the little girls like their dresses and skirts.”

This year, Belk is trying something new with a uniform section complete with Izod and J. Khaki Kids brands. The section is proving to be popular already, Callison said, and local schools have approved the styles available.

Walmart is frequently a major player in the tax-free shopping game, and Shallotte Walmart Shift Manager Sean Pope said the store is ready for Saturday’s onslaught.

The store has the supply lists from local schools posted for shoppers, and is preparing to have 10 percent more staff on hand to keep up with the business.

Pope said “the basics” such as socks, T-shirts and school supplies as well as higher-end items like laptop computers are the most popular items. The store is expecting the biggest crowd from about 1-6 p.m. Saturday, he said.

At Dollar General of Shallotte, manager Doris Mintz said she’s expecting a good turnout for people looking for basic school supplies.

“We do real good on the school supplies, but we don’t carry the big-ticket items,” Mintz explained.

According to the N.C. Department of Revenue, clothing, footwear and school supplies of $100 or less per item; school instructional materials of $300 or less per item; sports and recreation equipment of $50 or less per item; computers of $3,500 or less per item; and computer supplies of $250 or less per item will be exempt from sales tax.

Clothing accessories, jewelry, cosmetics, protective equipment, wallets, furniture, items used in a trade or business and rentals are not covered by the exemption, and will be subject to the applicable sales tax.