Tax-free holiday

Martin Retana measures up a pair of pants for his daughter Sofia Retana, while Sharon Retana observes from a distance.

Crying toddlers. Flash sales. The relief of air conditioning. Long lines at registers. All of it can only mean one thing: back-to-school shopping.

Killeen-area shoppers were treated to the annual tax-free holiday this weekend, officially announced by Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar.

Texas is one of 16 states that participate in the holiday. Businesses and shopping centers geared up for the surge of shoppers over the weekend. One of those stores was J.C. Penney at the Killeen Mall.

Active wear and athletic shoes were the big draw for most shoppers, according to J.C. Penney General Manager Topher Howard. But families could be seen congregating around the Arizona bottoms for both boys and girls. Though the 90-something temperatures outside might not indicate it, it will be time for jeans soon.

“Denim is still in, active wear is still huge and then obviously your athletic shoes are a big items as well,” Howard said.

Backpacks for $7 and graphic T-shirts that came with fidget spinners attached to them were also high on the priority list for shoppers. Though families have started to shop earlier in the summer to avoid the massive rushes right before school starts, Howard said that if the tax-free weekend was any indicator, there are still plenty of families with more to do.

“We’ve always had a lot of success with it here at J.C. Penny in Killeen,” he said. “I think more and more people are beginning to shop a little bit earlier, my traffic here yesterday (and) here so far today, I’d say there’s still a lot of people here for tax-free. We’re having great traffic right now, so we’re very excited to have these customers here.”

The sales tax holiday concludes Sunday.

The law exempts most clothing, footwear, school supplies and backpacks priced below $100 from sales tax, saving shoppers about $8 on every $100 they spend during the weekend, according to a news release from Hegar.

Exceptions to the tax free weekend include “special use clothing,” items “reasonably defined as luggage” and any item over $100.

Special use clothing is defined as specialized sports gear that cannot normally be worn including cleats and football pads.

Other athletic clothing such as tennis shoes, jogging suits, and swimsuits will be tax free.

School supplies that will also be tax free include binders, book bags, composition books, index cards, markers, crayons and lunchboxes, just to name a few.

All clothing items and school supplies must be less than $100 to be able to qualify for tax exemption.

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