School supply lists are out, shelves are stocked and advertisements of sales have been distributed for the sales tax holiday this Friday through Sunday.
The annual sales tax break means most school supplies, clothing and backpacks that cost less than $100 per item won’t be subject to state or local taxes. The exemption saves shoppers about $8 for every $100 spent.
“I think it’s a very, very attractive come-along for consumers, and it’s certainly going to be useful for the retailers to get customers in the store, which is their primary goal,” said David Strutton, a marketing professor at the University of North Texas. “It has no real downside for either the retail side or the consumer side. They are both gaining something out of it.”
The Texas Comptroller’s office estimates that shoppers will save an estimated $82.7 million in taxes over the upcoming weekend. This adds up: The National Retail Federation estimates the average family with children in grades kindergarten through 12 will spend $669.28 on back-to-school items, up 5 percent from last year.
National and local stores are loading up the offers for extra savings this weekend. For example, Small Fry Children’s Clothing Boutique in Denton will have an additional 20 percent off all spring and summer clothing, including garments already on sale.
Retailers are offering additional discounts and sales, like Target in Denton. All backpacks and lunch kits are on sale, with other school supplies, clothing and shoes on sale. Target is also giving away $5 gift cards for school supply purchases of more than $25.
Wal-Mart is also promoting the tax free weekend throughout its weekly ad, showing discounts on school supplies and clothing as well.
Golden Triangle Mall is featuring a promotion where if a customer spends $125 at select stores, the customer can receive a $20 gift card. For the promotion, customers need to spend at least $125 between Body Central, Buckle, Charlotte Russe, Pac Sun and Zumiez by Sunday, then bring the receipt or receipts to guest services to get a gift card while supplies last.
Additionally, shoppers can register through Sunday to win a $500 shopping spree at the mall. Five winners will be selected Monday.
Stores are getting ready for the rush over the three days, said Carrie Carter, director of marketing for the mall.
“As I walk through the mall, I see several of the stores are gearing up for the tax-free weekend,” she said. “Our retailers are doing what they think is necessary to prepare for a successful weekend of shopping.”
For the weekend, Vista Ridge Mall in Lewisville is extending its hours to accommodate increased foot traffic.
On Friday and Saturday, the mall will open at 9 a.m. and close at 10 p.m., and on Sunday, the mall will be open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Shoppers can also take advantage of extra savings at Rayzor Ranch Marketplace. Several retailers at the shopping area are partnering with Health Services of North Texas to offer a free school supply item, and some are giving away additional coupons.
To take advantage of the deal, shoppers will go to the Health Services of North Texas booth in the parking lot by Ross Dress for Less and get a passport, which lists the participating retailers. At each location on the passport, shoppers receive a free item and get a stamp. Once the card is full of stamps, they bring the passport back to the tent and are entered into a raffle.
Teri Johnson, community outreach director for Health Services of North Texas, came up with the idea to merge its annual health fair with the tax-free weekend. In addition to the shopping opportunities, the booth will also feature blood pressure checks, information on immunizations and samples of healthy snacks.
“I decided this year I needed to figure out a way to take this health fair and back-to-school event to the community and be where the community is instead of having the community come to us,” Johnson said. “The benefits are twofold — the retailers are giving back to the community by giving away school supplies, then they gain traffic and exposure.”
JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @JennaFDuncan.