Angie Sanguinette of Beaufort and daughter Gloria McCreary decided to take advantage of the state's sales tax holiday by spending Saturday at Tanger Outlets, getting McCreary outfitted for the first day of eighth grade at Riverview Charter School.
As Sanguinette loaded packages into her trunk, she looked out at the line of bumper-to-bumper cars inching out of the outlet mall parking lot. "The stores weren't too bad at all," she said, "but this ... ."
Shoppers descended on stores across Beaufort County during the statewide suspension of the 6 percent sales tax, which began at 12:01 a.m. Friday.
At Tanger Outlet 2, a sheriff's deputy directed traffic at the shops' intersection with U.S. 278.
"We've been non-stop all day," manager LaDonna Shamlou said. "Some of our stores opened earlier than usual because there were lines of people waiting at the door."
The holiday is among the busiest shopping time in South Carolina, likely made more so this year because Georgia did not have a tax-free holiday for the second year in a row.
Shoppers save nearly $3 million a year during the tax-free weekend, the S.C. Department of Revenue estimates.
Many stores bulk up staff and throw in extra deals to lure bargain shoppers.
JC Penney on Robert Smalls Parkway in Beaufort is offering extended hours, staying open about two hours longer than usual through the weekend, according to supervisor Essie Middleton.
"We've been able to accommodate everyone," she said.
The sales tax holiday continues until midnight today.
Items covered include clothing and clothing accessories; shoes; school supplies; computers; printers; blankets; bedspreads and linens; bath cloths; bath towels, bath rugs and mats; shower curtains; pillows and pillow cases, according to the S.C. Department of Revenue, .
Merchandise that is not covered includes jewelry; cosmetics; eye wear; wallets; watches; rental of clothing or shoes; furniture; items for use in a business; and items placed on layaway.
Follow reporter Allison Stice at twitter.com/BlufftonBlogIP.