Back-to-school shoppers looking to save a few bucks can head out this weekend to avoid paying state taxes on school items.
Ohio’s tax-free weekend begins at 12 a.m. Friday, offering some relief to parents and college students buying hundreds to thousands of dollars in gear in preparation to head back to school.
The average U.S. household will spend nearly $700 for school supplies for children in kindergarten through high school and back-to-college shoppers are expected to spend more than $975, according to the National Retail Federation.
A shopper in Montgomery County, where the sales tax is 7.5 percent, will save $7.50 per $100 of qualifying tax-free items. If Montgomery County families spend the average $700 on qualifying back-to-school needs, they could save $52.50.
“We know that raising kids and raising a family is expensive, so I think this is a way for the General Assembly to say during this weekend, this is going to help you,” said Gordon Gough, president and CEO of the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants.
Clothing items less than $75, school supplies less than $20 and school instructional materials $20 or less will be tax exempt Friday through 11:59 p.m. Sunday.
Susan Bradley of Centerville has three daughters, two in high school and one in elementary school, who she has already started shopping for, but she’ll wait for tax-free weekend for clothing and shoes, she said.
“I’d rather spend my time tax-free weekend buying clothing and more expensive items like shoes and jackets and things,” Bradley said. “It’s gotten more expensive as my kids have gotten older. They just need more supplies. But it’s just something I’m willing to spend money on because it’s for school and it gets them excited.”
Amber Rogers of Preble County will avoid the stores altogether, she said. She’s already finished back-to-school shopping for her kids and said the savings don’t make up for the crowds.
“I prefer to just skip the tax-free weekend and just get things done with less people,” Rogers said.
Back-to-school shoppers won’t be the only ones to take advantage of the discounts this weekend, though, Gough said. Stores will entice shoppers with other deals, not just on school supplies and clothing, but for general items that will convince them to pickup more while in stores in a highly competitive retail environment.
“The tax-free weekend isn’t just for parents and teachers anymore. I think that shoppers are more savvy than ever,” said Meijer spokesman Joe Hirschmugl. “If anyone’s looking to stretch their wallets out and get more for their spending, this tax-free weekend is perfect for it.”
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To handle the influx of shoppers, stores will add hours for employees and move them around to different parts of the stores, several managers of area locations said.
“We have to really be clear about what our people are doing. Do we have enough people scheduled? Do we have enough people scheduled at the right time and in the right places? Do we have enough people at the front end to make sure we get our people checked out fast and do we have enough people to come back and refill,” said Bud Klorer, manager of the Moraine Walmart.
Customers who want to beat the crowds can order online and pick up in store and still get tax-free items if an order is picked up during the tax-free dates, Klorer said.
For brick-and mortar shoppers, Beavercreek Target manager Tiffany Shope recommends shopping Friday.
“Saturday and Sundays are busier days in general. People are out running their errands when they’re not at work, so Friday will be a little bit lower of a volume,” she said.
Regardless of when families shop this weekend, the store leaders said they generally see increases in sales over the typical weekend, some increasing several percentage points, Gough said.
“Yes the stores will be busier. Yes it will be harder to shop. But we give the customers more reasons to come in,” Klorer said.
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