Tax holiday considered a "phenomenal" success

By Brad Kessie - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - If crowd estimates are any indication, Mississippi's first sales tax holiday was a huge success.  Official sales receipts from the tax holiday won't be tallied and released until this fall.  Merchants say the receipts will document what their sales associates experiences -- two red hot shopping days at the end of a long, and often slow summer.

Nick White stood atop a ladder, moving shoe boxes around a shelf.

"Will you had me those right there?" he asked his colleague.

The shoe department shelves needed restocking, because on Friday and Saturday, aisles were bombarded by back to school bargain hunters.

"I mean we had people as soon as we opened at 8:00 in the morning, they was waiting outside," said White.

Brittany Graham spent all three days assisting customers in Academy's shoe department.

"It was very crazy.  We were constantly busy from open until close," she said.

Not even a 30 minute Saturday afternoon power outage could slow down the storm of shoppers, searching clothing racks for sales, and not paying sales tax.

Billy Woods is one of Academy's managers.

"It was chaos in here.  It was very busy," he said.

The Monday after Mississippi's tax holiday gave store managers a chance to catch their breath.  While they straightened out shirt piles, they marveled at what two days of tax free shopping meant for their bottom lines.  "Phenomenal" was the word Nicholas Ramirez used.  He runs the Tommy Hilfiger at Prime Outlets.

"It was unexpected business that totally exceeded our expectations here," he said.

If a store sold shirts, shorts, slacks, socks or shoes, those items were not charged the state's seven percent tax.

"Everyone's looking for savings," Ramirez said.  "And it definitely kept our local shoppers here in Mississippi."

Mississippi is one of 15 states to offer tax holidays to shoppers.

This weekend, Alabama and Louisiana stores offer their own tax free shopping discounts.  In those states, school supplies are also eligible for the tax break.

Mississippi lawmakers have said they may consider amending their tax holiday law, to give books the same break as clothes.

Next year, cities that worry they're losing too much tax revenue have the option to opt out of the sales tax holiday. But spokesmen in Gulfport and Biloxi say that won't be considered until their financial experts see the tax reports from July and August.  The July report should be released in September.  The August report comes out in October.

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