When the state's annual sales tax holiday goes into effect Friday, it will offer some relief for families during back-to-school shopping season.
A family with school-age children will spend an average of $634.78 on clothing, shoes, supplies and electronics this year for back-to-school shopping, according to the National Retail Federation.
Last year, Oklahomans saved more than $6.9 million on state, city and county sales tax during the annual Sales Tax Holiday, according to the Oklahoma Tax Commission.
Local retailers benefit
While big box retailers get a bump in traffic during the sales tax holiday, it also helps smaller local businesses, said Jerrod Shouse, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business.
“The sales tax holiday is good for stores in general, but it could make a big difference for small businesses,” Shouse said. “The sales tax holiday puts people in the mood to shop and we're hoping they buy at least some of their school clothes and supplies at small, locally owned businesses, because when you support small business, you support the community.”
Kelly Smith, who owns the local children's clothing store Keedo Clothes, said the event brings in more visitors to her shop at 12100 N May Ave.
“In this economy, I really think that every little bit helps,” Smith said.
Keedo has marked down all of is summer clothes in preparation for the tax holiday this weekend.
“I think a lot of stores usually have sales on top of the tax holiday, so together, people can save a lot,” Smith said. “I think it's nice for everyone to get a break on sales tax every once in a while.”
Locally owned clothing retailer Blue Seven, 7518 N May Ave., is celebrating the tax holiday with visits from local food trucks Roxy's Ice Cream Social and The Halls Pizza Kitchen on Saturday.
The sales tax holiday is always a busy weekend for the shop, said Amy Lacher, Blue Seven manager and women's buyer.
“It's a good mixture of people,” Lacher said. “We have people who just want to come in and get a good deal, as well as back-to-school shoppers.
The Oklahoma Legislature passed a bill in 2007 allowing for the annual sales tax holiday to boost sales for retailers and also provide at temporary reprieve from taxes for consumers.
Clothing and footwear that cost less than $100 are exempt from sales tax during the holiday. Items that are still subject to sales tax during the tax holiday include athletic equipment, including clothing and shoes primarily designed for athletic activity. Accessories including jewelry, handbags, backpacks and umbrellas are also not exempt during the tax holiday.
Many shopping centers and retailers are offering extended hours and special sales during the sales tax holiday, which begins midnight Friday and last until midnight Sunday.
Sam's Club stores in Oklahoma will open their doors to nonmembers Friday through Sunday.
Quail Springs Mall, Sooner Mall and Penn Square Mall all will offer extended hours during the sales tax holiday weekend.
“We know that the sales tax holiday is very popular with customers and want to accommodate their needs,” said Jeannette Smith, marketing director for both Sooner and Quail Springs Mall.
Many mall retailers will also boost sales tax savings with additional sales this weekend, Smith said.
Walmart stocked its stores with clothing and other items in advance of the sales tax holiday, said Erica Jones, a spokeswoman for Walmart.
“With the sales tax holiday, we know that this weekend will be very important for families who do their back-to-school shopping with us,” Smith said.
It's a good mixture of people. We have people who just want to come in and get a good deal, as well as back-to-school shoppers.”