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Sales tax holiday gives bigger savings

Photos by Aaron Paden/Kristin Welch shops for children’s clothes Monday at Beyond the Rainbow on Brookway Boulevard.

Photos by Aaron Paden/Kristin Welch shops for children’s clothes Monday at Beyond the Rainbow on Brookway Boulevard.

Merchants can expect a rush of shoppers this weekend for Mississippi’s sales tax holiday.

Purchases of qualifying clothing and footwear made from 12:01 a.m. Friday through midnight Saturday are exempt from sales tax in all areas of the state, except for Heidelberg.

The key word is qualifying.

The sales tax holiday will apply statewide to all consumer purchases of clothing and footwear with sales prices of less than $100 per article during the two-day period from early Friday morning to late Saturday night. During that time, sales taxes will not be collected or paid on any article of clothing or footwear if the sales price of a single item is less than $100 and as long as that item is among the list of eligible products put out by the state Department of Revenue.

A complete list of eligible and non-eligible items are available at www.dor.ms.gov by searching “Annual Clothing Sales Tax Holiday Guide.”

Angie Warren, owner of Expectations Too, said a lot of her regular shoppers are waiting for the weekend to get the best deals.

“Traditionally, people start shopping about two weeks before school starts back,” she said. “That sales tax free weekend is kind of the kick-off.”

She expects to see a lot of school clothes and shoes sold, but she’s hoping the extra traffic will mean high sales on taxable items as well, such as backpacks, lunch boxes and nap rolls.

The sales tax holiday could provide a much-needed lift to many small stores and businesses, said Ron Aldridge, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business. “It’s been a lackluster summer for a lot of small businesses,” he said. “The sales-tax holiday should help people get fired up and in the mood to spend.”

Sales associate Katherine Green helps shopper Dana Rutland pick out a backpack Monday at Expectations on Brookway Boulevard.

Sales associate Katherine Green helps shopper Dana Rutland pick out a backpack Monday at Expectations on Brookway Boulevard.

The latest NFIB Small Business Optimism Index, released this month, shows that small-business confidence improved by only a fraction of one percent in June. “Small businesses are in maintenance mode,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “Uncertainty is high, expectations for better business conditions are low, and future business investments look weak.”

That’s where the sales-tax holiday comes in, Aldridge said. Parents would go back-to-school shopping regardless, he said, but the tax holiday could also attract cash-strapped shoppers who have delayed buying new clothes and shoes.

“And people need to remember that the tax holiday applies to Main Street as well as the mall,” he said. “Even if you don’t need school clothes, you can save money shopping during the sales-tax holiday, and you can find some great deals and unique merchandise by shopping small.

“When you shop at small, locally-owned businesses, you’re helping your friends and neighbors,” Aldridge said. “You’re supporting the businesses that support our schools and charities and create jobs in our communities.

“Combined with the back-to-school sales a lot of stores are having, the sales-tax holiday is going to help people get a bigger bang for their buck,” he said. “The more we can do to encourage people to shop at small businesses, the more jobs we’ll save, and the faster our economy will grow.”

Warren said she’s prepared for the rush of customers this weekend.

“It’s a lot of fun and it is busy,” she said. “People will come out in droves. You’ll have parents and grandparents come shopping. We always enjoy it.”

Ryne Martin-Nez, who co-owns Hobie’s Sports and Outdoors with his brother, said his customers like to shop during the tax holiday because of the savings they can rack up.

“It’s nice to get the tax free,” he said. “It saves you a little money. It feels good when you save a little money on the side. It brings a lot of people out.”

Martin-Nez said the tax holiday gives them a sales boost at the end of the slow summer months. “It slows down around the summer, but people are still shopping and everything’s rocking’ and rollin’ and doing well,” he said.

He said the holiday gets people in the shopping spirit.

“This kind of kicks off the fall and gets people excited for deer season and back to school,” he said. “People come and buy a lot of different things. You might bring in customers you never had before.”

That’s what Anna Douchard, who owns Beyond the Rainbow, is hoping.

She was busy during last year’s tax holiday and expects the crowds to be just as steady this weekend. The tax holiday comes during the same time as their end of summer clearance sale, so a lot of shoppers combine the two to get the best deals.

With the summer heat still lingering after school starts, a lot of Douchard’s summer clothing gets scooped up to be used as school clothes. “It will start them off and take them well into the first month of school,” she said. “And we sell a lot of shoes. It’s a good time to get them.”

Eligible clothes includes pants, shirts and blouses, dresses, coats, jackets, belts, hats, undergarments and multiple piece garments sold as a set. Footwear is any item designed for feet except for skis, swim fins, roller blades, skates and any similar items.

Accessories do not qualify for the sales tax holiday. That includes jewelry, handbags, luggage, umbrellas, wallets, watches, backpacks, briefcases and similar items.