ALBANY, GA (WALB) – South Georgia retailers say the cancellation of Georgia's back to school sales tax holiday will cost jobs. Retailers say they'll offer specials to try to lure shoppers through their doors.
State lawmakers called off this year's tax free shopping period, saying it would cost the state $12 billion. But retailers say it could have meant more to the unemployed.
Georgia retailers say since the tax free holiday started in 2002, it has grown tremendously in popularity, and now July is the third biggest sales month for many stores. Retailers say they think canceling the program was the wrong thing for the economy, especially with a ten percent unemployment rate in the state.
David Cole is buying shoes for his children Christopher and Katlin. He would like to buy them tax free, but with that program canceled, he is going ahead buying them now.
"Because as a parent you know you got to have it irregardless of course. If they kept them tax free, that would give us more money to spend on clothes and shoes."
J. C. Penney Albany store manager Joseph Iles says the four day tax free holiday for retailers meant big business. "Tax free is almost like having Christmas in the summer," Iles said.
December is their top sales month, November second ,and July was third because of the no tax shopping period. And the store was preparing to hire more employees, when state legislators announced the cancellation.
"That would have meant an opportunity to add 10 to 12 additional people for about eight weeks to help us out," Iles said.
And Iles said it wasn't just his store, but most other retailers across the state that would have added more employees for the big sales weekend preps. Now the stores will compete with specials and sales to get more parents to do their school shopping at their store.
J. C. Penney will give discounts equal to the tax free holiday July 29th through August 1st. Many retailers say canceling the tax free holiday was the wrong way to try to spur the state economy, and put people back to work.
Cole says he agrees, and hopes legislators bring it back next year. "I sure hope so," Cole said.
And he pays seven cents on the dollar for his kid's shoes and clothes.
Retailers also point out that Florida, Alabama, South Carolina and Tennessee will all have tax free holidays this summer, and that many Georgians might go across state lines to do their back to school shopping, costing the state retailers and treasury even more.
The President of the Georgia Retail Association claims the state actually nets $20 million during sales tax breaks from income, corporate, and other tax revenue generated by store sales.