• December 22, 2014

Tax-free holiday helps customers, stores

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Posted: Sunday, August 10, 2014 4:30 am

TEMPLE — Time is running out to fill that back-to-school shopping list. The three-day sales tax exemption, which applies to most clothing, footwear, school supplies and backpacks, ends when stores close today.

Dillard’s at the Temple Mall was among the stores that extended its hours and added staff in preparation for the busy weekend.

“It’s about a 50 percent more volume on a tax-free Friday than it is on a typical summer Friday,” said John Bittrick, store manager. “Back-to-school is a significant part of our annual business, but nothing compares to Christmas. I guess you could call it Christmas in August.”

Clothing was a hot item, he said. Not only were the customers saving about 8 cents on the dollar, but the store was offering discounts on its summer merchandise. Backpacks were another hot item, in particular the Vera Bradley brand, he said.

“That’s partly because it appeals to the preteens, teens, sorority sisters, moms and grandmothers,” he said. “It covers the gamut of age and socio-economic demographics. Everybody wants a Vera Bradley bag.” Dillard’s will be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. today, he said.

Robert Potts, store manager of Cochran Blair & Potts in Belton, said the store was busy all day Friday and Saturday morning. The store had longer hours and more workers for the special weekend, but does not open on Sundays.

Sales around Christmas are better than they are for the sales tax holiday weekend, he said, but there is another difference.

“The customers during tax-free weekend seem to be shopping with a purpose,” he said. “Christmas is a little more of a browsing visit.”

Clothing was the biggest sale item, he said, particularly women’s apparel and shoes. The store also sells a lot of work boots, he said, which qualify for the tax exemption on the special weekend.

Cynthia Graves, store manager for J.C. Penney at the Temple Mall, said the tax-free weekend usually generates two to three times more sales than a normal weekend. While it doesn’t compare to Christmas, the three days of the sales tax holiday are comparable to Black Friday, she said. The upcoming weekend (Aug. 23-24) before school starts also will be a big one, she said.

“We’re selling a lot of denims, in all of our areas,” she said. They also were selling a lot of socks, underwear, backpacks and other back-to-school items.

“All of our apparel and shoes qualify,” she said.

J.C. Penney will be open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. today, she said.

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