S.C. prepares for sales tax holiday weekend

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S.C. prepares for sales tax holiday weekend

From staff and wire reports
Published Wednesday, August 3, 2011   |  745 Words  |  

Lowcountry retailers expect a hectic weekend as shoppers from near and far take advantage of South Carolina's annual Sales Tax Holiday.

The state will suspend its 6 percent sales tax, along with any local-option sales taxes, on a litany of items from 12:01 a.m. Friday until midnight Sunday to make the return to school less expensive.

The holiday, among the busiest shopping periods in South Carolina, could be even busier than usual for local merchants this year because neighboring Georgia will not conduct its own tax-free holiday for the second consecutive year.

After Georgia eliminated its holiday last year, many shoppers crossed the state line to shop tax-free in South Carolina, said Howard Jones, who manages the Target store in Bluffton as its store team leader.

"Last year, we definitely saw increased traffic coming from Georgia," Jones said.

That should happen again this year, if the ringing phones at the Tanger Outlet Centers in greater Bluffton are any indication.

"We're already getting a lot of calls from Georgia customers," general manager LaDonna Shamlou said Wednesday.

Shoppers save nearly $3 million a year during the tax-free weekend, the S.C. Department of Revenue estimates.

Shamlou said consumers seem hungry for deals this year because of a spate of recent negative news about the economy.

"When they see that, they want value," she said.

From Bluffton to Beaufort, stores are scheduling additional staff to accommodate the anticipated rush and working to make shopping convenient for customers.

Target will distribute lists of schools' uniform colors, for example, and the Kmart in Beaufort will move its most sought-after items to the front.

"We try to put everything where it's accessible," said Mike Evans, a Kmart manager.

Some stores also are offering discounts on top of the sales-tax savings.

Shoppers who bring a nonperishable food item to Tanger will receive a sheet of coupons for 20 percent off merchandise at participating retailers, Shamlou said. The food will benefit nonprofit social services agency The Deep Well Project, she said.

Even though local shops are looking forward to South Carolina's holiday, at least one state lawmaker thinks it should be more limited.

Born during the administration of former Gov. Jim Hodges, the 12-year-old provision was intended to assist families of modest means in providing the necessary items for their children to return to school, Rep. Chip Limehouse, R-Charleston, told The (Columbia) State.

Pencils, pens, paper, shoes and clothing are what the law's authors had in mind, said Limehouse, who helped craft the legislation. Over time, the legislation has become bloated, he said, to include too many items unrelated to school.

"The idea is even more valid now than ever before," Limehouse said. "What we need to do is revisit the list of items."

The list of items eligible for the exemption did not change this year from last year's, according to Revenue officials.

However, the Legislature this year did away with a similar sales tax holiday for guns.

The state lost an estimated $250,000 in tax collections by providing the breaks around Thanksgiving to mark the state's support for the Second Amendment.

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  1. 'Really Busy' tax-free weekend likely, Aug. 03, 2011
  2. Myrtle Beach area shoppers await tax-free holiday, Jul. 31, 2011
  3. Back-to-school spending apt to be flat in '11, July 22, 2011
  4. Sales tax holiday in 3 weeks, Jul. 15, 2011
  5. SC sales tax holiday set for Aug. 5-7, July 13, 2011
  6. S.C. Department of Revenue Sales Tax Holiday Information
  7. Bringing back tax-free weekend not a priority, January 24, 2011