Shoppers search for deals during annual sales tax holiday

LAWRENCEVILLE - On the first day of Georgia's annual sales tax holiday, Ann Lucado and her son Will went to Wal-Mart to stock up on school supplies.

With a list of materials requested by St. John Neumann Regional Catholic School, Lucado said she chose to make the back-to-school shopping trip during the tax-free period because she wanted to save a few dollars.

"We're cheap," she said on Thursday. "If you save money, you can spend it elsewhere - on fun stuff."

Until midnight Sunday, state and local taxes will be waived on clothing and footwear priced at $100 or less per item, school supplies priced at $20 or less per item, and computers and accessories up to $1,500 per transaction.

"I encourage parents, students and teachers to take advantage of our eighth annual sales tax holiday to save on purchases of much-needed supplies," Gov. Sonny Perdue said. "Experience has shown that many retailers offer additional discounts and sales that result in even more savings for back-to-school shoppers."

Many Gwinnett shoppers said they appreciated the savings.

"We buy everything (during the sales tax holiday) - clothes, everything," said Henry Ventura, who was shopping for school supplies with his daughters.

Melanie Pearson said she already purchased school supplies for her children, students at Osborne Middle School, but her family buys clothing during the tax-free period. She said she found some great deals at the Mall of Georgia on Thursday.

"It's too crazy to try to get notepads and pens and everything," the Dacula resident said, "but clothes and shoes, we do it now."

Some, however, weren't shopping just to take advantage of the 6 percent savings.

"It's a little discount," said Laura Kent of Watkinsville. "It's not worth it."

Kent visited the Mall of Georgia with her daughter on Thursday to shop for clothes and go to a movie, but her family has already completed their back-to-school shopping. Her daughter starts school Wednesday.

Retailers are offering a lot of deals this weekend for those who do choose to shop, said Kelly Fox, director of marketing at the Mall of Georgia.

"With the economy, this is the break that they (shoppers) want," she said.

The Mall of Georgia is extending its hours today through Sunday, closing at 10 p.m. today and Saturday and at 7 p.m. on Sunday. Gwinnett Place Mall will also have extended hours, closing at 9:30 p.m. today and Saturday and at 7 p.m. on Sunday.

Jim McKnight, store manager at the Wal-Mart on Lawrenceville Highway in Lawrenceville, is also expecting crowds throughout the weekend.

"Wherever they can save money is where they are going to go," he said of the shoppers.