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Retail group president declares Georgia’s sales tax holiday a success

POSTED: August 8, 2008 5:01 a.m.
SARA GUEVARA /The Times

Linda Acevedo, 16, a junior at West Hall High School, holds up a dress as she shops at Ross Dress for Less last week during the tax free holiday weekend.

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The president of the Georgia Retail Association said Monday that while final numbers are not in, he believes the state’s retailers saw more dollars come into their stores because of the sales tax holiday.

John Heavener, president of the association, said the sales tax exemption on selected clothing, computers and school supplies generated increased traffic for retailers.

"It seems to have been a good weekend," Heavener said. "We seem to be up from last year just based on anecdotes and no solid numbers. People I’ve talked to at the store level say sales are up, but no one has released numbers."

The state department of audits — which prepares an annual fiscal note, the amount the sales tax loss will cost the state — estimated the four-day holiday would take $8.67 million from state coffers for clothing sales alone. That translates to $217 million in retail clothing sales across the state.

The same report projected computer sales would reach an estimated $49 million and school supplies $37 million.

The estimated loss in sales tax is only the 4 percent collected statewide. It does not include the local option and special purpose sales taxes, which vary from county to county.

Heavener said many of the larger shopping malls had increases in traffic, and many stores were offering significant discounts.

"This is the best time of the year to buy," he said. "You get the discount from the sales tax, plus you get rock-bottom discounts, lower than usual this year because of the state of the economy."

The state estimate had predicted a 5 percent increase in retail sales during this year’s holiday.

Vehicle traffic was noticeably higher on Saturday at larger shopping venues, such as Mall of Georgia in Buford and North Georgia Premium Outlets in Dawsonville.

Many retailers extended their store hours during the holiday.



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