Tax Holidays Give Spending Boost to BTS

Florida, the first state to create a specifically back-to-school tax holiday in 1998, exempting all clothing that cost less than $50, failed to approve a tax-free BTS holiday this year. Florida, like many other states, is hampered by budgetary pressures. Shoppers in about 15 other states and the District of Columbia, though, enjoyed a tax break on BTS supplies this year. Food retailers say these tax-free

Florida, the first state to create a specifically back-to-school tax holiday in 1998, exempting all clothing that cost less than $50, failed to approve a tax-free BTS holiday this year. Florida, like many other states, is hampered by budgetary pressures.

Shoppers in about 15 other states and the District of Columbia, though, enjoyed a tax break on BTS supplies this year. Food retailers say these tax-free holidays give a psychological lift to spending, and they made sure shoppers were aware of the tax-free opportunity.

A tax-free holiday for school supplies in Virginia aided BTS sales at Giant Food of Landover, Md. “We encouraged Giant's customers to use this opportunity for back-to-school supplies by running an in-store radio spot,” said chain spokeswoman Andrea Astrachan.

The radio ad included this message: “At Giant, we're helping families save money … with great sale prices on essential back-to-school items like paper, notebooks, pencils and pens. So, stock up while school supplies are priced low and tax-free.”

The Alabama Retail Association encourages Alabamians, as well as those in neighboring states, to take advantage of the savings available during sales tax holidays. “Families looking for a way to make their dollars go further or to spend their economic stimulus checks should make the most of this opportunity,” said Rick Brown, association president, in a statement. Brown pointed out that the sales tax holiday benefits not only students, but also any consumer who wants to stock up on clothes and office supplies.

Food Lion, Salisbury, N.C., a Delhaize America banner, also promoted sales tax holidays in several of the states where it operates, including Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. Most state sales tax holidays on school supplies ran from Aug. 1-3.

“A mention of the tax-free holidays ran in the back-to-school block of our fliers, and there were vestibule signs reminding customers of these dates, hanging in the stores,” said Food Lion spokeswoman Kimberly Blackburn.