Retailers are bracing for this weekend’s tax-free holiday, which attracts shoppers in high numbers that are on par with holiday traffic.
“In our experience, it is comparable to the day after Thanksgiving,” CBL marketing specialist Melissa Blackburn Asman said Wednesday. “It is one of the biggest sales weekends after the holiday season. This would be a close second as far as traffic and sales in the mall.”
Between Friday and Sunday, the state of Tennessee will provide exemptions on most clothing, footwear and school supplies priced under $100. Computers priced at $1,500 or less are also tax-free.
Tennessee's sales tax rate is currently 7 percent.
Both Northgate and Hamilton Place malls, which are owned by CBL, will bring in extra staff members this weekend to help manage the crowds and attend to customers, CBL spokeswoman Catharine Wells said via email.
“Retailers also staff up—it’s an all-hands-on-board weekend for all of us,” she said.
In recent years, as state leaders faced the recession, some states such as Florida eliminated the sales tax holiday. But this year, 17 states—including Tennessee and Georgia—have decided “it was worth the trouble,” Kay Bell, contributing tax editor at Bankrate.com, said.
In addition to providing savings for consumers, having the tax-free holiday is good politics, Bell said.
“I think, from a cynical point of view, it’s a nice political gimmick,” she said. “It makes people happy. Everybody loves a sale.”
Asman said that, in addition to the tax-free items, many retailers also offer additional sales items.
Although consumers may love a sale, retail workers have a “love-hate” relationship with the weekend, Bell said.
The extra traffic and tax-free purchases mean more bookkeeping work for retail employees, Bell said.
But technology helps employees track what is tax-exempt, she also said.
“And there is always the hope that somebody comes in to buy something on sale and might buy something that isn’t one of the tax-free items or they buy more," she said.
Bell said that consumers should try to avoid impulse buys to get the most out of the tax-free weekend.
She also noted that purchases made online for items that qualify during the weekend will also be tax-free.