Shopping Tax-Free Weekend for Back-to-School

Aug. 1, 2014Houston Public Media

It’s just like clockwork. Family budgets tighten as they begin the expensive process.  But that burden is eased somewhat, with the annual tax-free weekend. Standing in the aisle of a discount store in South Houston, state senator Rodney Ellis said August 8-10 is the 16th annual back-to-school sales tax holiday weekend.

“After this year’s sales tax holiday, Texas will have saved over $860 million dollars, on essential back to school supplies,” said Ellis. “This year alone, the State Comptroller expects that Texas will save $82 million dollars.”

Most states offer tax-free incentives for clothes footwear and some backpacks, but Ellis says Texas is different.

“Texas families also get a sales tax break on most school supplies priced at less than a hundred bucks, purchased for use by a student at an elementary or secondary school,” says Ellis. The sales tax holiday gives consumers extra incentive the shop, helping retailers bring in more value and also helping you save money.”

The National Retail Federation estimates the average family will spend $670 dollars on clothing, supplies and electronics to get ready for back-to-school, up 5-percent from last year. Jean Lambert with the International Council of Shopping Centers, says the internet is a growing venue for back to school shopping, but it also helps many families scout where to buy.

“It’s the use of online as a research tool,” says Lambert. “We notice that three out of four households now do their research online before shopping in a store location for back-to-school items.”

He says contrary to popular belief, apparel is still the main purchase for most back-to-school shoppers. And they are not just shopping at traditional brick-and-mortar stores.

“We see also a shift, a slight shift in where households buy,” says Lambert. “It used to be heavily discount stores. It’s still the case, but now we see this year, office supply stores, traditional department stores come back, apparel specialty stores and shopping centers as well.”

Senator Ellis says he’d like to increase the amount  that can be purchased during the tax-free weekend from $100 to $150 dollars.