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Retailers expect boost from sales tax holiday

Shopping break begins Thursday

POSTED: July 30, 2008 5:02 a.m.
Sara Guevara/The Times

Katy Strayhorn, a kindergarten teacher at Wauka Mountain Elementary School, looks at classroom supplies Friday at Pierce Wholesale. Strayhorn says she is waiting to get her $100 gift card, which is being given to public school teachers by the state of Georgia, before making any purchases.

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The state of Georgia is giving shoppers a tax break on back-to-school items for four days beginning Thursday. The annual sales tax holiday has become a tradition in Georgia, according to state Rep. Carl Rogers, R-Gainesville.

"People just expect the holiday now," Rogers said. "It’s important now, especially with the softness in the economy."

While the sales tax holiday is designed for back-to-school shopping, the four-day event benefits many consumers who take advantage of the sales tax exemption for clothing items priced at $100 or less and certain computer equipment.

For Renee Gerrell of The Dress Code, a business that specializes in school uniforms, the sales tax holiday is the retail equivalent of Christmas at her store.

"We put these dates on our calendar the day the General Assembly approves it," Gerrell said. "We’re unpacking boxes and getting extra merchandise on the shelves."

One year, the holiday began on the day before school started, and Gerrell said the convergence of dates created a near stampede in her Pearl Nix Parkway store.

"We call all of our friends and family and tell them to circle the dates on their calendar," she said, explaining that those close to them are recruited as sales staff.

The store also is open on the Sunday afternoon of the holiday, a once-a-year occurrence.

But Gerrell said that customers have not waited on the holiday to begin back-to-school shopping.

"This whole month has been really busy," Gerrell said.

The shopping holiday also will be busy for public school teachers who will have a $100 shopping card from the state to buy classroom supplies. This is the third year that Gov. Sonny Perdue has included the cards in the state budget.

The holiday is expected to be a boost for computer retailers, such as Best Buy, which will open from midnight to 2 a.m. Thursday for early shoppers during the holiday.

The sales tax exemption covers computers priced at less than $1,500 and personal digital assistants that do not have a telephone feature.

The exemption also covers school supplies that are less than $20.

The same law that authorized the school sales tax holiday creates another sales tax holiday in October that will exempt the tax on selected Energy Star items, as well as selected water efficient devices.



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