Stores gear up for tax holiday


Tax-free weekend will begin at midnight Friday, and local stores are gearing up for what will likely be a boost in customer traffic throughout the three-day span.

The sales tax holiday will run through 11:59 p.m. Sunday. Items that can be purchased tax free include clothing with a purchase price of no more than $100, school supplies of $100 or less and computers of $1,500 or less, according to the Tennessee Department of Revenue.

To prepare for the sales push, Walmart co-manager Tracey Duncan said school supplies were delivered six weeks in advance. “We’ve so many associates that are going to be filling this area, multiple times a day for tax free (weekend),” Duncan said of the school supplies aisle, adding the sales tax holiday is “key” for the store’s staffing and sales.

Duncan said lists were delivered from the school systems about four weeks ago, which were printed out and placed in front of the store for parents to pick up. Next to the lists are bags packed with an assortment of school supplies.

“They kind of like put these (supply bags) together for the schools and the key items and having them already ready,” Duncan said. “There are different things. So it’s got different things. It’s dependent upon the school list, so it’s already prepared.”

Loudon County Education Foundation Executive Director Michele Lewis said those supply bags can be donated to the LCEF Stuff the Bus, a school supplies drive that occurs over tax-free weekend and goes toward both Lenoir City and Loudon County schools.

“I mean this is something that this store does amazing with because it’s ready for the customer to donate,” Duncan said. “If they want to do like this and just donate anything.”

Big Lots in Lenoir City store manager Lane Kellam said school supply lists could be found online. The local retail store already has a back-to-school section set up inside, and has prepared a couple weeks in advance for the eventual school supplies rush, he said.

“I mean it’s just a regular weekend for us. I mean no other than Black Friday (sales) or anything like that,” Kellam said of the tax sales holiday.
Kellam said he did expect a “little bit” higher than usual count of customer traffic over the weekend.

Walmart department manager Misty Herman said the two busiest days of the weekend are Friday and Saturday. “Usually the parents will come in right after the school, and that’s when they’re coming in getting their stuff, and then Saturday morning all the way through late in the evening, and then it’s like that Sunday after church,” Herman said. “On Sunday, you’ll have a few of your last stragglers that come in, but yeah, your Friday night and your Saturday will be the biggest. Saturday is the craziest.”

As a parent, Lewis said the sales tax holiday makes a “really big difference” in allowing for her child to be ready for the school year. She said one minor complaint she has is the tax-free weekend should be moved up “a little bit” to account for some schools inching closer to a year-round schedule.

“Other than that it’s an absolute advantage for each parent and every student when you’re purchasing needed supplies for your kids, or when you’re even making a donation,” Lewis said. “It’s an amazing way to encourage people to contribute to the needs of the school is to lower the prices just a little bit.”
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