Thursday November 26th, 2015 7:31AM

Sales tax holidays are back

By The Associated Press
ATLANTA - For the first time since 2009, Georgia will offer shoppers a tax holiday on back-to-school goods Friday and Saturday.

The back-to-school shopping season is among the busiest of the year, taking a back seat only to Christmas.

The National Retail Federation estimates that parents with school children will spend roughly $690 on clothes, electronics and school supplies. That is an increase of $85 from last year's average.

In Georgia, the tax holiday suspends the sales tax on general school supplies, clothing worth $100 or less and computers and computer accessories.

Amy Hemphill, who lives in Gainesville, said she plans to shop during the tax holiday even though her son, a high school senior, will return to school before it starts.

"I'll let him get through a week, and get some things then," she said.

Georgia first offered a two-day sales tax holiday timed for the back-to-school season in 2002 along with another tax holiday earlier in the year. It eventually evolved into a four-day event. State leaders ended that tradition during the last recession as Georgia's tax revenue plunged. The sales tax holidays were reinstated this year by Gov. Nathan Deal and state lawmakers, including legislators who said Georgia businesses were losing back-to-school sales to stores in neighboring states that offer tax holidays.

Darryl Peck, a retailer with the PeachMac chain that sells Apple computers and other devices, said the back-to-school season is bigger than even the deluge of shopping that happens on the Friday after Thanksgiving. He said compressing the sales tax holiday into two days will mean the volume of shoppers in his stores will be heavier than at the start of the Christmas shopping season.

This year's shopping season could be difficult for stores, said Marshal Cohen, chief retail analyst for NPD Group. He said shoppers are more likely to wait until after school has started to do their buying and may shop at different stores over several months. He said a tax holiday could encourage customers to shift the timing of their spending.

Some stores are offering special sales during the sales tax holiday to boost sales. Other retailers are reminding their customers about the holiday. Stephanie Teichner, the owner of Sprong Children's Shoes in Buckhead, said people buy a single pair of shoes when the economy is in trouble rather than two or three pairs. She has pointed out the sales tax holiday to costumers in the hope it will encourage customers to buy more.
"It'll be helpful no matter what," she said. "I'm glad the state decided to bring it back."
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