Tax-Free: Back-to-school offer draw crowds

By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Charlotte Kennedy and her son, Tanner, got an early start to their tax-free holiday shopping spree on Friday.
The Amory duo were waiting at American Eagle Outfitters before the doors opened at 9 a.m., ahead of the rush of shoppers who swarmed retailers later in the day.
“We’re going to spend about $250,” Charlotte said. Tanner, an eighth-grader, was picking out what he wanted.
After shopping at American Eagle, the Kennedys said they were headed to Aeropostale and Lids.
By midmorning, traffic at the mall picked up, and by noon, the parking lots were full with shoppers taking advantage of a two-day break on the state’s 7 percent sales tax.
As a general rule, if it can be worn at school and is priced less than $100, the item is eligible for the sales tax holiday.
It’s the third year of the holiday, and the timing couldn’t be better. Surrounding states, including Alabama and Tennessee, also have sales tax breaks. But they haven’t had their holidays yet.
Mall general manager Jeff Snyder likened the Friday shopping scene to Black Friday, the day-after-Thanksgiving shopping frenzy that traditionally has been the busiest and biggest shopping day of the year.
“We’re covered up, there’s no doubt,” he said. “Even though it was a little slower than we thought starting out compared to last year, the information we’re getting from our merchants is that sales are really strong and it’s even busier than it was a year ago.”
Back-to-school shopping should be on pace with last year, according to the National Retail Federation. The trade group said families with K-12 children will spend more than $603 per child on apparel, school supplies and electronics this year for school.
But Emily Tolar of Booneville said she wasn’t spending quite that much on sons Adam and Easton.
“We’re looking for clothes and shoes,” she said. “We’re looking to spend about $200 or so.”
Like the Kennedys, the Tolars hit the stores early Friday.
“I’m off today, so maybe it wouldn’t be so crowded,” she said.
That wasn’t the case later in the day for Mitchell Warren, who took his grandson shopping for some clothes and shoes.
“I figured we’d beat the crowd, but it look like the crowd beat us,” he said with a laugh.
Not to worry – the tax holiday ends at midnight tonight, and many stores will be open early again today.
dennis.seid@journalinc.com