Retailers in Beaufort County expect large crowds this weekend as shoppers take advantage of the annual back-to-school sales-tax holiday.
The holiday means big savings for shoppers and big business for retailers, Beaufort County store managers said Monday.
"It's almost as busy as Christmastime," said Cheryl Johnson, manager of the JCPenney store in Beaufort.
South Carolina's 15th annual sales-tax holiday for school supplies starts Friday and runs through Sunday. Beaufort County shoppers can save 6 percent on a long list of items, from computers to dorm decor. Shoppers typically save an estimated $3 million during the weekend, the S.C. Department of Revenue has reported.
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From Bluffton to Beaufort, stores are scheduling extra staff to accommodate the anticipated rush.
"We're ready for it," said LaDonna Shamlou, general manager of Tanger Outlet Center 1 and 2 in greater Bluffton. "We've got additional staffing and plenty of parking."
Many parents will do the majority of their back-to-school shopping this weekend. Shoppers who plan to spend $500 on high school students can save up to $30 if they spend the money over the tax-free weekend.
Lowcountry retailers say the usual back-to-school basics -- notebooks, pencils, paper, pens, backpacks and clothing -- will be in demand.
"Pants, socks, uniforms, stationery -- we basically have everything they need," said Marilyn Cohee, a manager at Kmart in Beaufort.
As for electronics, stores such as Target in Bluffton will have deals on laptop, desktop and notebook computers, tablets, smartphones and other devices. College students are expected to spend $244 this year on gadgets, an increase of 20 percent from last year, according to the National Retail Foundation.
Nationally, shoppers are expected to increase back-to-school spending by 5 percent this year. That would raise the average expenditure for a family with children in kindergarten to 12th grade to $670, up from $635 last year, according to the retail group.
South Carolina's sales-tax holiday remains popular. Businesses are allowed to suspend collection of the 6 percent state sales tax and any local sales taxes -- which could increase savings to 8 percent -- on covered items for three days during the tax holiday.
Georgia's tax holiday is a two-day event, Friday and Saturday, this year. North Carolina eliminated its sales-tax holiday in 2013.
The (Columbia) State contributed to this report. Follow reporter Dan Burley at twitter.com/IPBG_Dan.
- Beaufort County retailers to open early on Thanksgiving, Nov. 23, 2013
- S.C. prepares for sales-tax holiday weekend, Aug. 3, 2011