Sales tax-free weekend is approaching, giving shoppers around the state the chance to buy school items, clothing, computers and more without having to pay sales tax.
From 12:01 a.m. Friday to midnight Sunday, shoppers can avoid the 6 percent sales tax, and local sales taxes, on certain items.
“It’s definitely the back-to-school buying season,” said Sandy Heymann, regional director of marketing with CBL & Associates Properties, a real estate investment trust that works with Coastal Grand Mall.
“People are always looking for value, they’re always looking to save,” Heymann said. “The average expenditure is boosted so much at back to school.”
Expect crowds at area stores including Target, Wal-Mart and both Tanger Outlet Centers. Coastal Grand Mall is not changing its operating hours for the weekend, but Heymann said the mall expects a big crowd.
Especially since North Carolina dropped the tax-free weekend last year.
But not all shoppers should rush out and face the crowds, according to Robert Martin, economist with the S.C. Board of Economic Advisers.
“It is important to note that you can do just as well buying some of those items during other periods of time in other months, and not have to wait to get a good deal,” Martin said.
Office supply stores such as Staples and OfficeMax offer occasional deals on school supplies, which may be better than sales tax savings this weekend, Martin said.
“But if you’re waiting for that big screen TV or wedding gown, then it is a good time to get out there,” he added.
Specific local gross sales and tax collections for S.C.’s tax-free weekend were not available from the S.C. Department of Revenue. Sales tax collections during August dipped by $9.5 million annually, however, compared to July sales tax collections over the past five years.
Revenue from the holiday has dipped over the years, Martin said, mostly because of online shopping. People can buy things over the internet and avoid state sales tax “any day of the week,” Martin said.
When the tax-free weekend was implemented in 2000, the BEA estimated $3.75 million in revenue; this year’s estimate is about $2.25 million, Martin said.
Still, officials are expecting the weekend to draw plenty of people to the Grand Strand.
“This is the time to shop for back-to-school – when you take advantage and see the savings, it’s with the trip,” Heymann said.
Contact CLAIRE BYUN at 626-0381 and follow her on Twitter @Claire_TSN.
Area store hours
Tanger Outlet Centers
Friday & Saturday: 9 a.m-10 p.m.
Sunday: 9 a.m.-7 p.m.
Friday: 8 a.m.-10 p.m.
Saturday: 8 a.m.-11 p.m.
Sunday: 8 a.m.-10 p.m.
Coastal Grand Mall
Friday & Saturday: 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
Sunday: Noon-7 p.m.
All area stores open 24 hours, except for Wal-Mart on Seaboard Street in Myrtle Beach, which operates from 6 a.m.-midnight.
S.C. gross retail sales by month, 2014
July: $14.2 billion
August: $16 billion
September: $14 billion
S.C. tax collections, 2014
July: $225.6 million
August: $220.7 million
September: $223 million
Source: S.C. Department of Revenue