Stores gearing up for sales tax holiday

LAWRENCEVILLE - The government will help shoppers save money over the next four days, but whether customers save more than 6 percent on their purchases depends on where they shop.

Some local businesses are feeling the need to lure customers into their stores with additional savings during the sales tax holiday, which began today at 12:01 a.m. and will continue through Sunday at midnight. Some aren't feeling that need.

Kasper, a women's clothing store at Discover Mills, is offering savings of up to 70 percent to coincide with the tax-free and back-to-school shopping period.

Lyn Scales, the store's assistant manager, said despite the sales tax holiday entering its sixth year of existence in Georgia, the novelty hasn't worn off on shoppers and her store wants to take advantage of the crowds.

"Most people are excited about any extra savings they can get with what's going on with gas prices and milk and things like that," Scales said.

Paul Shillcutt, assistant store manager at Perry Ellis in Discover Mills, agreed that people still seem to be excited about the sales tax holiday.

"I think it's always going to be a big deal," Shillcutt said. "Any time people can save it's going to be a big deal."

But Shillcutt said his store did not find it necessary to have any out-of-the-ordinary sales this weekend to attract customers.

The Haggar store at Discover Mills was taking the same approach, with employees saying too many sales can have a desensitizing effect on the customer.

With after-Thanksgiving sales 114 days away, Shaun Williams, the Haggar store assistant manager, said his store is limited on the types of savings it can offer.

"During tax-free season we can't do too much because big sale seasons like Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming up," Williams said.

It's a time of year that apparently ranks right up there with holiday seasons. Shelley Korenbrot, director of marketing for Gwinnett Place Mall, said the tax-free season ranks as of the top three busiest times of the year at her mall.

Depending on the nature of the business, it might even be as busy as the holidays.

"We're a children's store, so back-to-school time is like Christmas for us," said Tina Brown, manager of The Children's Place Outlet at Discover Mills.

Families with school-age children are expected to spend $563.49 on back-to-school merchandise this year, according to the National Retail Federation. That number is up 6.9 percent from last year's average of $527.08.

Local malls will extend their hours for the sales tax holiday. Gwinnett Place Mall and the Mall of Georgia will be open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday.

SideBar: At a glance

What: Georgia's sales tax holiday

When: Started today at 12:01 a.m. and will end Sunday at midnight

What is exempt:

' Clothing and footwear up to $100 per item (does not include clothing accessories, such as jewelry, handbags, eyewear, watches and similar items)

' School supplies bought for classroom use or classroom related activities up to $20 per item

' Personal computers and accessories are exempt up to $1,500 per transaction