The Union Recorder

Opinion

August 11, 2012

Do your back to school shopping in local stores

MILLEDGEVILLE — This weekend some local shoppers will have the opportunity to take advantage of a break in sales tax as for the first time since 2009 Georgia’s tax-free holiday is held. This year’s event kicked off at 12:01 a.m. Friday and continues through midnight Saturday.

While the timing for this year’s sales tax moratorium begins after the start of most local schools, it does provide a bit of relief for some families that waited a bit or bought less in anticipation of this weekend’s tax relief. The tax-free shopping period applies mainly to clothing and is intended to coincide with families’ back-to-school shopping needs — clothing and shoes under $100, school supplies and other items. Personal computers and accessories that cost less than $1,000 per purchase are also exempt.

The state stopped the eight-year tax-free tradition to save the estimated $12 million in lost revenue during the height of the economic downfall. Georgia is one of 18 states with tax-free sales days for back-to-school shopping. Neighboring states Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina do as well, and many Georgians have traveled out of state in search of bargains, but as gas prices have inched back up in recent weeks, it is certainly not the most cost-saving option this year.

While a late July tax-free weekend may have been a better option for many Georgia schools and families, this is still an opportunity to bring sales into local stores, which is always a plus not only for the retailers but also for the business community and Baldwin County.

Most families know all too well the price of school supplies and back to school clothes this year, and most spend heavily. According to the National Retail Federation, the average family is expected to spend $688.62 on each K-12 grade student in a household for back to school this year after years of cutting back. That’s an increase in spending from 2011. In all, spending projections are expected to exceed $30.3 billion, combined with college spending, estimates top $83.8 billion. So why not spend that money locally?

As we enjoy the waning hours of the tax-free weekend, we should remember that shopping locally provides value for the consumer as well.

Cut down on travel time, long lines and crowds by taking tax-free dollars to local stores for the back to school shopping that remains.

If the local community doesn’t support local retailers, it’s hard to see or expect that others will either.

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