Retailers gear up for tax holiday

Forget Black Friday, forget Christmas Eve. Tommy Lee expects today to be the biggest shopping day of the year.
Lee, owner of The Corner Shoe Store in the West Main Shopping Center in Tupelo, expects a hectic day.
“We’re going to open around 9 and we’ll have 11 people working the floor,” he said.
Mississippi’s sales tax holiday begins today and ends Saturday, and retailers throughout the state are gearing up for one of their busiest times of the year.
“Our busiest day used to be the Friday before Christmas, but after last year’s sales tax holiday, we expect today to be the busiest,” Lee said.
This is the second year Mississippi will have a sales tax holiday, and shoppers can save 7 percent on certain clothes and shoes that cost $100 or less per item.

Bigger than Black Friday
Bryan LeBlanc, manager of Turtle Creek Mall in Hattiesburg, describes the tax holiday weekend as Christmas in July or the second Black Friday. The mall is extending its hours.
“It’s one thing to have a tax-free weekend, but many (stores) are pairing it up with a lot of discounts,” LeBlanc said. “There are a great amount of sales you can take advantage of.”
As far as the state-sanctioned tax break, jewelry, handbags, wallets, watches, backpacks, school supplies, computers, cleats and other items worn in conjunction with an athletic or recreational activity are not eligible.
And some municipalities statewide have opted not to participate in the tax holiday, including Guntown and Sherman in Northeast Mississippi.
Still, bargains abound. The tax-free holiday has fallen during national sales events for some retailers, including JCPenney and Dillard’s, which will have an additional 30 percent off all permanently reduced items.
“We always want to figure out a way we don’t have to pay taxes. It’s the nature of us as Americans,” said George Whalin, a California-based retail consultant.
No matter your place on the economic scale, Whalin said, if there is a way to avoid paying taxes, people will find it.
And while on any other day of the year, a sale of less than 10 percent might not tempt shoppers to trade home’s comfort for a holiday-length line, tax-free shopping tends to do just that.
“There’s a huge psychological appeal that goes beyond the amount saved,” Craig Shearman, vice president of government affairs at the National Retail Federation, said. “Americans have hated paying taxes since the Boston Tea Party.”
Mississippi is one of 18 states with some variety of a tax-free period, although limits, days and what’s included vary greatly from state to state, the retail federation said.

Daily Journal/The Associated Press

Click video to hear audio