Back to school needs, savings draw residents to stores for tax free holiday

achristnovich@islandpacket.comAugust 4, 2012 

Although the first day of school is still weeks away, students and parents stopped savoring the last days of summer vacation long enough to flock to stores Saturday for state's tax-free holiday weekend.

The three-day break from South Carolina's 6-percent sales tax applies primarily to clothing, shoes, computers and school supplies. The tax free weekend doesn't bring the same consumer chaos as the holiday shopping season, but parking spaces at Best Buy in Bluffton and the Tanger Outlet One shopping center were still scarce Saturday.

Charlotte Williams traveled from Hampton County with daughters, Caitlin, 15, and Meagan, 8, to shop at JC Penney in Beaufort for back to school clothes. The trio then headed to Walmart for school supplies.

Meagan was excited about her new skirts and shoes and said she's eager to enter the third grade. Caitlin, who'll be a tenth grader, was searching for a pair of skinny jeans and, like many teenagers, was much less enthused about the prospect of heading back to class.

"There's nothing in Hampton," Charlotte Williams said in relation to places to shop. "We like coming to Beaufort."

Even shoppers who aren't heading back to class took advantage of the savings.

Alex and Madeline Rodriguez of Savannah bought a laptop from the Bluffton Best Buy on Saturday afternoon. After their PC broke down several months ago, they toyed with the idea getting a laptop. After two months of casual consumer report research and about 20 minutes with a Best Buy employee, they got the computer they wanted and saved close to $200.

"We'd been thinking about it for a while," Madeline said. "The sales tax weekend kind of pushed us to get it done."

The tax-free holiday ends today at midnight.

South Carolina is one of 17 states that lifts state sales taxes at least once a year, according to the Federation of Tax Administrators. North Carolina and Florida also held their holiday this weekend. Georgia's two-day holiday is Aug. 10-11.

Follow staff writer Anne Christnovich on at twitter.com/IPBG_CrimeNOB.

Related content: Beaufort County retailers prepare for three days tax-free shopping, Aug. 1, 2012

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