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Ringing up sales
Tax-free period runs through Sunday
belk 4 jd
Lynn Knowles removes a security tag from a piece of clothing. - photo by Jim Dean (previous profile)
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For more information, including items exempt from the state sales tax, go online at www.dor.ga.gov.
Summer vacation may be winding down, but another annual break is about to get cranked up.

Georgia’s four-day sales tax holiday begins at 12:01 a.m. Thursday and ends at midnight Sunday.

During that time, school supplies under $20, personal computers less than $1,500 and clothing items less than $100 will be exempt from all sales taxes.

Ashley Rice, a store manager at Belk in Cumming, said the holiday is a busy weekend for the store, which has extended its hours on Friday and Saturday.

“People like ... getting more for less,” she said. “That’s really what it’s about. I think they wait to do the majority of their school shopping on those days.”

Foot traffic at the Lakeland Plaza store increases significantly for the holiday, Rice said.

Steve Reid, manager of the Cumming Super Target, said he’s noticed the trend, and has added staff and school products for the holiday.

Clothing is a big part of where people spend money for their children’s return to school, Reid said. Specially priced underwear and socks are on display, as well as new shoe trends.

“What’s back to school without new shoes? We still have our summer sandals and shoes available, but we’ll also have new shoes available for the fall line,” Reid said.

Shelves are stocked with school supplies, and the store has supply lists for all the county’s elementary and middle schools.

Popular items this year include backpacks and lunchboxes, Reid said.

“The Jonas Brothers are very popular this year, Hannah Montana and Hello Kitty,” he said. “Everyone likes to save money and of course the opportunity to be tax free on most clothing and back to school items, there’s always a great chance for our guests to come in and save some money.”

To help shopping traffic, the state Department of Transportation is suspending some construction projects.

From 9 a.m. Friday through 9 p.m. Sunday, it will lift all construction-related lane closures within five miles of a mall or major shopping district.

Even with declining sales tax revenues, there was little opposition by either the state legislature or Gov. Sonny Perdue to the holiday, said Bert Brantley, press secretary for the governor.

“Every year that they have passed it, he’s come to the conclusion that it’s a benefit to Georgia families,” Brantley said. “It encourages the type of behavior that we want, which is to prepare our students for the school year. And it encourages them to get out into the stores.”

Brantley said people may be focusing on the tax-free items, but the fact they are out shopping likely will boost overall sales, including taxable items.

“You end up potentially even getting some additional sales tax revenue you might not have gotten, had those folks been at home,” he said.

“We don’t look at this as lost revenue, we look at this as a chance for our citizens and families to get ready for the school year and have a break on paying taxes on the things we want them to buy.”

E-mail Jennifer Sami at jennifersami@forsythnews.com.