Cowetans take advantage of tax-free holiday
by Clay Neely
Georgia’s annual tax-free holiday for back-to-school shopping started on Friday, and local shoppers enjoyed their exemption from both state and local sales taxes.
The tax-free shopping period – which runs through Saturday – allows Georgia consumers to receive a discount on most school supplies, clothing, and computer items. Many shoppers were happy that the tax-free holiday fell before the beginning of school this year. In 2013, the holiday fell on the weekend after public school was back in session in Coweta.
Jeff French was one of the many shoppers who decided to wait on back-to-school shopping specifically for the holiday savings. With a wife who is a school teacher and a daughter entering kindergarten, he was grateful for the holiday being moved back.
“We definitely waited until the holiday,” French said. “It made a lot more sense for them to have it before the school year started. I don’t know exactly how much we’ll save by shopping today, but it’s definitely worth it.”
Andrea Foster, store manager for Office Depot in Newnan Crossing East center, said their business had been steady Friday but expected it would pick up once many parents were off work Friday evening. As the store manager, she has attempted to make the hunt for school supplies as streamlined as possible for the parents.
“We’ve seen a lot of different lists and we help our customers decipher just what exactly is needed,” Foster said. “We’ve placed a lot of the key items in the center aisle and will do a walk-through with any parent who might be a bit overwhelmed by their list.”
Foster said most of the “big ticket” items such as laptop computers and tablets were hot sellers when the doors opened up in the morning, but business had primarily been focused on the core items needed for students headed back to school.
Lesa Mcloud was shopping for her two daughters – Leiyha is entering pre-kindergarten, and Geneva is entering ninth grade at Newnan High School.
While Lesa wasn’t out shopping for the big ticket items on Friday, she definitely said the tax-free weekend played a major role in her shopping decisions.
“We definitely waited for this weekend,” Mcloud said. “Once we are done shopping for our school supplies here at Office Depot, we’re heading across the street to Ashley Park to take care of our back-to-school clothes shopping. It’s definitely great to have the holiday back.”
However, she was frustrated that Newnan High School didn’t post its school supply list on its website. In the meantime, Mcloud plans on “winging it” – shopping for items she knows her daughters will need and then waiting until orientation to get a detailed list.
But for those who can’t afford to take advantage of Georgia’s tax-free weekend, Communities in Schools of Coweta is partnering with Walmart to provide school supplies for local at-risk students.
A bin for collection of donated school supplies is located at the Newnan Walmart, 1025 Highway 34. Donations are being accepted through Aug. 15. All school supplies are needed, but recommended items include backpacks, pencils, pens, erasers, crayons, markers, loose leaf paper, glue, binders, calculators, rulers and scissors.
Georgia had its first tax holiday in 2002 and it continued annually through 2009. However, in 2010 and 2011, it was eliminated in order to save an estimated $12 million in lost revenue. Governor Nathan Deal and state officials reinstated the tax holiday in time for the 2012 school year.