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Stores report busy tax-free holiday

Profile image for By Jenna Duncan / Staff Writer
By Jenna Duncan / Staff Writer

Local retailers saw heavy traffic this weekend as shoppers scooped up deals on back-to-school buys during the tax-free holiday.

No local or state taxes were collected Friday through Sunday on many school supplies and clothing items, and some stores offered additional discounts to encourage spending.

At the Super Target off South Loop 288, sales were strong but not as high as expected, said Jelesa Warren, executive team leader of soft sales. Overall for the weekend, the store ranked within the top 100 U.S. Target stores for sales of clothing and shoes.

“This past weekend, we had a lot of deals in clothing,” she said. “The boys and girls department was slammed.”

Among the most popular purchases were basics for school such as socks, khakis and polo shirts for uniforms and shoes, as well as backpacks. Even though school supplies will be on sale at Target this week, she noticed a lot of shoppers buying multiples of what they needed, such as three packs of pencils instead of one, and graph paper and construction paper had strong sales.

“We sold out of backpacks like crazy,” Warren said. “Backpacks and lunchboxes were our top sellers.”

The traffic was not as strong as last year, which Warren said she thinks is partially because the weekend was rescheduled during the legislative session, making the sale one weekend earlier than in previous years. Some shoppers weren’t even aware of the holiday, Warren said.

“Tax-free weekend wasn’t as busy as we thought it would be,” she said, “but we still did great in sales.”

At Golden Triangle Mall, mall manager Matt Ludemann said he hadn’t heard specific numbers about traffic or sales yet, but he had started receiving positive feedback from retailers.

“It was a busy weekend for the property,” he said. “Traffic was really good, even with the obstacles of construction.”

While he didn’t speak with any shoppers, he said most customers were buying necessities such as clothing and backpacks, and it seemed like there was an increase in traffic compared to last year.

This weekend was the first time Serendipity on the Square was open for the holiday since the boutique opened in September 2012, owner Claire Amano said. While the store doesn’t carry a lot of back-to-school items, she offered 10 percent off on items that weren’t eligible for tax-free shopping to bring in additional traffic.

“We had some good days,” Amano said. “We offered discounts on items that weren’t tax-free, so in effect, they could still get a good deal. ... It did seem to encourage people to get those items.”

T-shirts and jewelry were some of big sellers at the store, and she said overall, the store had good traffic all weekend.

Official state and local data for tax-free weekend sales will not be available until the end of next month, said R.J. DeSilva, a spokesman for the state comptroller’s office.

Before the weekend, the comptroller estimated shoppers statewide could save $78.9 million.

JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @JennaFDuncan.