Back to school almost always mean buying new school supplies and new clothes. As Metro Atlanta students prepare their minds for classes starting in less than two weeks, parents are preparing their wallets for the spending that goes hand and hand with the start of a new school year. However, this year experts predict spending to be down from last year and shoppers to be focused on what they really need.
Georgia joins a number of states in the Southeast offering a State Tax Free Holiday. Starting Friday July 31 and continuing until Saturday, August 1, Georgia will exempt sales tax on such items as: clothing (including footwear), with a sales price of $100 or less per item, and computers and lap tops. The exemption excludes clothing accessories such as jewelry, handbags, umbrellas, eye-wear, watches and watchbands. Visit the Georgia Department of Revenue’s State Tax Free Holiday link for a full list of tax exempt items and taxable items.
The tax free holiday is not only a welcome back-to-school event for parents, but a plus for stores as well. Traditionally, this time of the year is among one of the biggest for retailers. Many retailers expect to do well during the two day holiday because more customers will come into stores looking for both the offered sales and the benefit of no sales tax. Locally, Metro Atlanta shoppers have already been exposed to back-to-school items on sales for more than three weeks. But national forecasters point to a lower projected profit for the retailer this year than last. The Nation Retail Federation (NRF) has revised down its forecast for 2015 retail sales and said it expects back-to-school revenues to drop slightly from last year.
“According to NRF’s Back-to-School Spending Survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, the average family with children in grades K-12 plans to spend $630.36 on electronics, apparel and other school needs, down from $669.28 last year”.
The NRF said one of the reasons for this predicted decline in spending is due to a number of economic factors creating an unanticipated slow growth for the first half of this year. The industry association anticipates retail sales growth of 3.5 percent this year, down from an earlier estimate of 4.1 percent.
Another key factor to consider is that the 2015 customer is a more savvy, price conscience and needs driven shopper. A bargains plus what’s on the shopping list will likely equal to a sale. The NRF said parents are not planning to buy all brand new items this year, just replenish what’s needed.
However, this year social media is expected to play a role in back-to-school spending. Experts say these are the trend focused shoppers with at least one social media influenced item on their necessity list. This type of shopping will especially be seen among young video blog followers captured by trendy marking tools and suggestions that successfully engaged them both socially and fashion wise. Only the smart retailers will picked up on this group’s motivation and cater to it offering those popularly blogged items both regular priced and on sale.
It is important to note that the National Retail Federation’s research revealed that back-to-school spending has grown by 42 percent in the last ten years. So there is no doubt that Georgia’s shoppers, just like the state’s retailers, will still win during the upcoming two day Tax Free Holiday.
Gov. Nathan Deal reinstated Georgia’s the tax holiday in 2012. It was the first time since 2009 that Georgia’s back-to-school shoppers got the sales tax break. One of the reasons for reinstating the program included the fact that Georgia businesses were losing back-to-school revenue to neighboring states. The Tax Free Holiday was started by former Gov. Roy Barnes in 2002.
Georgia families will get a second chance to save money with a Fall Tax Free Holiday happening October 2-4, 2015. These tax free items only include appliances and similar products that all have the Energy Star label and a maximum sale price of $1,500.0. The Tax Free Holiday will also include bathroom fixtures and similar water related items that all have the WaterSense label and a maximum sale price of $1,500.00.