Area parents are hoping to score back-to-school deals while some retailers are preparing for an onslaught of business rivaled only by Black Friday as Tennessee’s annual sales tax holiday weekend approaches.
“We’ve been extremely busy in the past, and we’ve staffed with extra people on those days to make sure that everyone who walks in the door will be able to interact with a team member,” Lauren Bible, executive team leader of human resources at Target’s North Roan Street store, said Tuesday.
Bible said staffing will be doubled at the retailer this weekend in anticipation of the rush of customers looking for discounts on clothes, school supplies and electronics.
“Most of them that come in say they’re here because it’s tax-free weekend and they want to save everything that they can,” she said. “I don’t blame them, because school supplies can run kind of high.”
The annual sales tax holiday was enacted in 2006 by the Tennessee General Assembly. Starting at 12:01 a.m. on the first Friday in August and continuing through 11:59 p.m. the following Sunday, shoppers effectively receive a 10 percent discount on clothes, school supplies and art materials less than $100 per item and computers and tablets less than $1,500.
Washington County Department of Education Director of Materials and Curriculum Susan Kiernan said most parents wait to purchase school materials for their children until the tax-free weekend to take advantage of the savings.
“A large number of the parents get the back-to-school clothes and the things they need all on the same day,” Kiernan said. “From the folks I’ve talked with, they think it’s very beneficial and helpful.”
With the growing role of computers in the classroom and for homework, Kiernan said many parents also opt to make big-ticket electronics purchases during the holiday as well.
“We have iPads in many of our classrooms for students to use, and we have computers all over the building,” she said. “The students do much of their reports, essays and research on computers at home. It would probably be difficult to find a household that doesn’t have at least one computer in it.”
Like Target, electronics retailer h.h. gregg is preparing for a banner weekend at its Peoples Street store.
“Last year it was crazy busy,” store General Manager Patrick Mahoney said. “But we did well, and we expect the same again this year.”
Mahoney said last year, the store sold four times the number of computers and tablets of a normal weekend during the sales tax holiday.
“It’s all hands on deck,” he said. “We’ve got all of our associates coming in this weekend, and we’ve trained our associates from other areas to be able to assist customers with PCs and tablets.”
Mahoney said tablets were still emerging during last year’s tax holiday, but have since made major gains in popularity. He expects them to be big sellers this weekend.
“A lot of schools in the area use iPads in the classroom, so the children are familiar with them,” he said. “There are a lot of tablets out there on the market now, so I think we’re probably going to get a lot of interest in them.”
If shopping for the most-coveted items this weekend, Mahoney advised starting early when in-store stocks are fresh.
“We always run out of some things,” he said. “We get a truck in at the beginning of every day, but when it gets later in the day we might be out of some of the more popular items.”