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Parents and grandparents were busy stocking up on binders, pencils and school clothes in Montgomery on Sunday, the final day of the 2012 Alabama sales-tax holiday. It was the state’s seventh annual sales-tax holiday, which began at 12:01 a.m. Friday and ended at midnight Sunday.
The state suspends the four percent sales tax on certain school supplies and clothes. Most local governments, including Millbrook, Montgomery, Wetumpka and Prattville, elected to suspend collections of their sales taxes as well.
Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange was in contact with the larger area retailers all weekend, and said on Sunday evening that they were all reporting steady streams of shoppers, and that they were all buying.
Strange said that he looked back over the sales tax numbers from all the years of the sales-tax holiday, and felt certain that the holiday doesn’t really take tax away from the city.
He said besides helping families save money, the holiday also gives retailers a chance to really promote sales, and helps the city because it increases the revenue stream.
The National Retail Federation estimates that parents of K-12 students will spend $688 this year on back-to-school items.
Shoppers had the opportunity to purchase clothing, computers and software and school supplies, including art supplies and instructional material, free of the sales tax.
Shamika and Otis McCall were at Target on Berryhill Road on Sunday, buying binders, folders, notebooks and more for their four children, who will be in the eighth, seventh, sixth and fourth grades in Montgomery schools.
The school supply lists seem to get longer each year, and the McCalls had to have it all. Copier paper, Post-It notes, Expo markers, hand sanitizer and tissues are just some of the items on their schools’ lists. And they have to have uniforms for all four kids, with different colored polo shirts.
But it isn’t just parents of K-12 kids who benefited from the sales-tax holiday.
Frances Sankey was at Target shopping for her daughter, 23, who is attending graduate school at UAB. She had a cart filled with notebooks and was out to find pencils and reams of paper, among other supplies.
“I know I’m only getting a few things today, and I have a whole lot more stuff to get later on, but at least today I can save some,” Sankey said.
Nancy Dennis, spokeswoman for the Alabama Retail Association, said Sunday that the retailers she had spoken to all reported steady traffic, even with rains this weekend. Some were off to a slow start Friday, but had picked up the pace Saturday and Sunday.
Dennis also said the retailers are happy that the public schools are starting later this year.
She said some retailers felt that when school started right after the holiday, as it has in past years, many people already had finished their shopping by then, because they preferred not to wait until the last minute.
This year, Montgomery, Elmore and Autauga counties’ public schools report back on Aug. 20.
Dennis said retailers don’t have to report their August sales until mid-September, so numbers won’t be released until the first of October.
But from informal reports, at least, the bigger stores have been busy. Julie Larsen, executive team leader for human resources for Target, confirmed that it has been a busy weekend.
“We haven’t had a minute where it’s been quiet,” she said.
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