Stores expect big spenders

Published 12:04 am Friday, August 3, 2012

Kim Landrum, and Andalusia High School student, and her mother, Sue Weaver, shop Thursday inside Factory Connection. | Stephanie NelsonStar-News



Local merchants were hard at work Thursday preparing for the start of today’s sales tax holiday weekend.

From 12:01 a.m. this morning until 11:59 p.m., shoppers will get an automatic discount of the usually collected sales tax on qualified items in participating cities and towns throughout the state.

In Covington County, those shopping in Andalusia, Florala and Opp can save 8 percent on back-to-school items. Among goods that qualify for the tax break are:

• clothing and shoes with prices of $100 or less.

• school supplies and textbooks with prices of $50 or less.

• other books with prices of $30 or less.

• computers and computer equipment priced at $750 or less.

With the influx of customers expected, merchants have been readying extra staff, extending shopping hours and preparing sale items.

At Cato’s, first assistant store manager Courtney Bongafa said customers were “scoping out” merchandise before the tax holiday began.

“I anticipate it to be a good weekend, sales wise, based on how people have been coming in to see what merchandise we have on clearance and what we have for back-to-school and fall fashions,” she said.

Bongafa said she believes the biggest crowd will be this morning and Saturday morning. Next door, staff at Factory Connection are expecting the same.

“Normally, we have one person on per shift,” said store manager Stephanie Skipper. “Not this weekend – we’ve doubled up. We know that with our sales and new promotions, we’re going to be busy.

“Neither of us on shift worked here last year, so this will be our first tax-free holiday here, but we heard last year, the crowd was huge,” she said. “This year, we’re expecting an even bigger crowd.”

JC Penney area supervisor Donna McLeod said the last of the stores new merchandise arrived Thursday and corporate officials have extended store hours.

“We’re going to make sure it’s all in place, and we’re going to have overlapping double coverage on staff,” she said. “So there should be plenty of people to help make selections and to check out customers in a quick fashion. We’re definitely geared up for this.”

This is the seventh year for the sales tax holiday, and on Thursday, Gov. Robert Bentley on Thursday encouraged Alabamians to remember this weekend’s state sales tax holiday for back-to-school items and stock up on needed supplies.

“The cost of school supplies can quickly add up, and this sales tax holiday is about saving families money,” Bentley said. “This is also a way of encouraging shoppers to support our businesses, large and small. It covers a wide range of items from school supplies to clothing and computers. I encourage people to take advantage of this opportunity to save some money while also preparing for the start of the new school year.”