Last updated: July 31. 2014 2:45PM - 121 Views
By Mary Katherine Murphy mmurphy@civitasmedia.com

Mary Katherine Murphy | Civitas MediaA customer at Walmart in Laurinburg, N.C., picks up notebooks and other supplies to ready her children for the start of school.
Mary Katherine Murphy | Civitas MediaA customer at Walmart in Laurinburg, N.C., picks up notebooks and other supplies to ready her children for the start of school.
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Some North Carolina shoppers will cross the state line to take advantage of this weekend’s state sales tax holiday.

While South Carolina offers tax-free shopping the first weekend in August, its neighbor to the north canceled the annual tax-free weekend effective this year. Officials predict a surge in sales here as bargain-hunters look to save on sales tax for school supplies, clothing and electronics.

“If North Carolina’s not going to do it, they will go outside,” said Richard Barbee. “Most of the time, you’ve just got to do what you’ve got to do.”

The N.C. General Assembly scratched the sales tax holiday as part of its 2013 tax overhaul. Kiana Williams, a student at Scotland Early College High School in Laurinburg, N.C., said she relied on the back-to-school savings.

“It helped a lot because we usually get a whole pack of paper for the year and all of these notebooks just in case we run out,” Williams said. “Me and my sister and my brother will be going to the same school, so we all need the same things.”

Some will head across state lines to stores in Cheraw, Bennettsville or Dillon, where a first of August tax-free weekend remains in effect.

The sales tax holiday applied to school supplies, computers, athletic equipment and clothing and shoes under a specified price. In the tax holiday’s later years, it cost North Carolina in excess of $13 million in lost sales tax revenue.

The Scotland County NAACP chapter will also take its business elsewhere when stocking up for its Back to School, Stay in School supply giveaway. The organization typically spends around $1,500 on school supplies for that occasion.

“That’s one event where we go shopping, and this year it is going to make a big difference since we do have to pay the tax,” said NAACP member Doretha Swann. “This year it’s going to be a little hard compared to the last few years.”

Scotland County Manager Kevin Patterson termed the weekend a “significant” one for sales, though the county lost its 2 percent portion of the 6.75 percent sales tax assessed on qualifying items, and the holiday did not appreciably boost sales of the big-ticket items to which tax still applied.

The loss of the holiday may discourage people from traveling to Moore or Cumberland counties in North Carolina for a major shopping expedition, Patterson said. He predicted that an almost certain decline in sales for the first weekend in August will not be reflected in the monthly total.

“You probably have some people who made an event out of it who wanted to get all their school supplies and clothes,” he said. “Now it’s less of a shopping day and that could actually help some of the stores here. They might pick up one or two items now and one or two items later that they’re much less likely to go out of town for.”

Not all took advantage of the tax holiday when it was available, as the adage that you have to have money to save it proves true.

“We’re broke every weekend,” joked Margaret Bullard. “For us it doesn’t make any difference; we don’t spend enough to bother with it.”

Reach Civitas Media reporter Mary Katherine Murphy at 910-506-3169. Follow her on Twitter @emkaylbg.

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