Beaufort County retailers prepare for three days of tax-free shopping

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Beaufort County retailers prepare for three days of tax-free shopping

Published Wednesday, August 1, 2012   |  501 Words  |  

This weekend figures to be like Christmas for area retailers -- or, to be more accurate, the day after Thanksgiving.

"It is a lot like Black Friday," said Zach Pickering, a manager at the Best Buy in Bluffton, referring to the post-Thanksgiving shopping frenzy. "Except it's condensed to our computers; people ignore our home theaters and video games."

Computers are among a variety of items for which the 6-percent state sales tax will be lifted in South Carolina's 13th annual sales-tax holiday, which begins at 12:01 a.m. Friday.

The holiday, which runs through midnight Sunday, targets back-to-school shoppers and has become retailers' third-busiest time of the year, according to the S.C. Department of Revenue.

While the event was established to help families save on school supplies, it has come to attract shoppers of all kinds.

Shoppers statewide save about $3 million over the course of the weekend, according to the Department of Revenue.

To accommodate the crush of customers, Pickering said, his Best Buy will open an hour earlier and close an hour later than usual during the three-day event. He added that the store recently ordered more computers to satisfy the high demand.

JC Penney on Robert Smalls Parkway in Beaufort also will offer extended hours during the event, according to supervisor Essie Middleton.

If the store does not have an item requested by a customer, Middleton added, it will order it at the discounted price.

The holiday applies to the purchase of clothing, shoes, school supplies, book bags, bedspreads, linens, printers and printer supplies.

Taxes will still apply to jewelry, cosmetics, eye wear, wallets, watches, furniture and items placed on layaway.

"Our stores have been stocking up for this event for a while now," said LaDonna Shamlou, general manager of the Tanger Outlet Centers in greater Bluffton. "We'll be extremely busy. We're always busy before school starts, but the tax-free (event) is when people love to save."

She said the recent extension of the Bluffton Parkway would ease the traffic congestion that has accompanied past tax-free events. A deputy would not be needed to direct traffic, she said, as was required last year.

The outlets also will collect nonperishable food for Bluffton Self Help and The Deep Well Project during the event. Shoppers who bring a canned good will receive coupons for 20 percent off an item at participating stores.

South Carolina is among 11 states with a tax-free event this weekend; the others are Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Virginia.

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