Though some area school districts have already gone back to school, retailers still expect a good turnout for the Georgia back-to-school sales tax holiday this weekend.
Roy and Gavie Almeida were shopping in the Evans Walmart on Friday for clothes and supplies for their three children, and they said they waited until the sales tax holiday. They went out Thursday with plans to buy but saw a sign for the sales tax holiday and decided to hold off.
“We thought we might as well wait a day or two more,” Roy Almeida said.
Buying for Roy Jr., 9, Ivan, 7, and Angela, 2, adds up, he said, and not having to pay sales tax is one way to save on back-to-school expenses.
“It’s not a whole lot, but it helps,” he said.
Columbia County schools were back in session Tuesday; Burke County schools were back Wednesday; and McDuffie County schools resumed classes Friday.
Richmond County students will return to class Monday.
Evans Walmart shift manager Chris King said most parents have bought their children’s pencils and notebook paper.
“The school supplies shopping is almost done, pretty much a non-event now,” he said.
What will sell this weekend, he said, is fall clothing and electronics. Electronics selling for $1,000 or less per item are tax-free, so King said his store is preparing for big sales of laptops, tablets and USB drives.
Although this is Georgia’s first back-to-school tax-free weekend since 2009, area shoppers were able to shop in Aiken and North Augusta stores last weekend to take advantage of the South Carolina back-to-school tax holiday. King said that with Georgia having a tax-free weekend of its own this year, Peach State shoppers will probably stay closer to home.
“Now that it’s available to them here, I think it will keep them from crossing the river unless they have to,” he said.
King said he hopes the tax holiday will continue because it’s especially important to retailers in state-line cities such as Augusta.
“I think it equals the playing field for Georgia retailers,” he said.
Audrey Chaplin, the owner of School Days Supply Co. on Washington Road, said that bringing back the sales tax holiday is a good start but that this year’s timing made it less helpful than it could have been.
“The only thing the timing is good for is South Carolina teachers, and they had their holiday last weekend,” she said.
Schools in Aiken and Edgefield counties start Aug. 20.
Even in years when Georgia had a sales tax holiday, Chaplin said, it was hard to tell how much of her store traffic was a result of the holiday because it is a busy time of year. In the future, she said, she hopes legislators will choose the date carefully to help more students, teachers and parents.
“It’s really not going to make that much of a difference this year, I think,” she said.