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Stores ready for tax-free weekend

Staff Writer

The annual tax-free weekend got under way at midnight Friday and lasts through Sunday, offering shoppers an opportunity to stock up on school-related merchandise, clothing and computers, among other items.
The tax breaks are available even if no one in the family is going back to school.
The first sales-tax holiday in North Carolina was conducted in August 2002. It has since become a yearly tradition, during which retailers offer certain items without sales tax tacked on.
“(Retailers) are glad to have any edge they can have to bring customers in,” Lincolnton-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce President Ken Kindley told the Times-News Wednesday when speaking about the tax-free event.
Participation by retailers is mandatory, as the state does not allow those who wish to opt out to do so, according to a North Carolina Department of Revenue press release.
While most surely welcome the added crowds the holiday draws to stores, some retailers think the novelty has started to wear off for customers over the decade since the inaugural tax-free weekend.
Mary Lynne Plaxco, the sales-team manager at Lincolnton’s Belk, told the Times-News on Thursday that the event used to be bigger, but excitement surrounding it has started to dwindle down as people realized that the lack of the roughly 7 percent sales tax is not that big of a break on smaller items.
Nonetheless, she noted that the incentive for people to come into the store is greater, and Belk has doorbuster sales planned for the weekend.
Barry Angley, manager of the Staples on East Main Street in Lincolnton, said the store has several specials taking place on items such as laptops, printers and other back-to-school items.
“Our clientele does double in size during the weekend,” Angley said of past tax holidays.
To accommodate the expected surge in customers, he said the store will bring in additional staff members, which he hopes will make the shopping experience more pleasurable by allowing people to get in and out.
According to the NCDOR release, tax-free weekend specifically exempts the following: clothing, footwear and school supplies of $100 or less per item; school instructional materials of $300 or less per item; sports and recreational equipment of $50 or less per item; computers of $3,500 or less per item; and computer supplies of $250 or less per item.
Tablet computers and netbooks of $3,500 or less per item qualify; eReaders do not.
Additionally, not all items required by a child’s school or sports team necessarily qualify for the exemption.
For more information, visit www.dornc.com/taxes/sales/salestax_holiday.html.

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