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Tax-free weekend kicks off

By ALLISON MILES
Aug. 20, 2010 at 3:20 a.m.

Kindergartener Jaylen Hoff, 5, can't make up her mind which backpack she wants to buy at Target on Friday morning, the opening day of the tax-free weekend.

School supplies that qualify for the tax exemption include:

Binders

Book bags

Calculators

Cellophane tape

Blackboard chalk

Compasses

Composition books

Crayons

Erasers

Folders

Glue, paste and paste sticks

Highlighters

Index cards

Index card boxes

Legal pads

Lunch boxes

Markers

Notebooks

Paper

Pencil boxes and other school supply boxes

Pencil sharpeners

Pencils

Pens

Protractors

Rulers

Scissors

Writing tablets

*Eligible items should be for use by elementary or secondary school children and should be priced at less than $100.

Source: Texas state comptroller website

Here is a list of clothing items and their exemption status:

Tax-free

Baby clothes

Backpacks for use by elementary and secondary students

Belts with attached buckles

Boots - cowboy, hiking

Caps/hats - baseball, fishing, golf, knitted

Coats and wraps

Diapers - adult and baby

Dresses

Gloves

Gym suits and uniforms

Hooded shirts and hooded sweatshirts

Hosiery

Jackets

Jeans

Jerseys - baseball and football

Jogging apparel

Neckwear and ties

Pajamas

Pants and trousers

Raincoats and ponchos

Robes

Shirts

Shoes - sandals, slippers, sneakers, tennis, walking

Socks

Shorts

Suits, slacks, and jackets

Sweatshirts

Sweat suits

Sweaters

Swimsuits

Underclothes

Work clothes and uniforms

Taxed

Accessories (generally) - barrettes, elastic ponytail holders, wallets, watches

Backpacks - unless for use by elementary and secondary students

Baseball cleats and pants

Belt buckles without belt

Boots - climbing, fishing, rubber work boots, ski, waders

Buttons and zippers

Cloth and lace, knitting yarns, and other fabrics

Dry cleaning services

Football pants

Golf gloves

Handbags and purses

Handkerchiefs

Hard hats

Helmets - bike, baseball, football, hockey, motorcycle, sports

Ice skates

Jewelry

Laundering services

Leather goods - except belts with buckles and wearing apparel

Pads - football, hockey, soccer, elbow, knee, shoulder

Personal flotation devices

Rented clothing, including uniforms, formal wear and costumes

Roller blades and skates

Safety clothing, glasses

Shoes - bicycle (cleated), bowling, golf

Source: Texas state comptroller website

Leslie Hoff had his hands full, following his grandchildren through Target's backpack section.

Jeremiah Hoff, 7, balanced on tip-toe to pluck bags from hooks as his sister, 5-year-old Jaylen Hoff, waffled between two pink bags.

"They wore out their old backpacks, so we're out to get new ones," Hoff said with a shrug.

Tax-free weekend kicked off Friday, offering Texas shoppers a break on school supplies and clothing.

Palacios resident Victoria Duran and her family started at Dillard's and JCPenney but visited other stores as the day wore on. With four grandchildren to shop for, Duran expected to spend about $600 on school clothes.

Shopping for Tera Smith and her family will span the weekend.

Smith, her husband and four children made their way through the Victoria Mall, looking for blue jeans and other clothes, Friday. They planned to buy school supplies later.

The group will spend a few hundred dollars, Smith said, but that's why they shopped this weekend.

"It saves us a little bit of money," she said.

Nationwide, the average family will spend $606.40 on clothes, school supplies, shoes and electronics, according to data from the National Retail Federation.

Consumers weren't the only ones affected by the savings. Stores did their part to prepare.

Children's Place hired staffers to meet the added demand and brought in extra denim, shoes and jackets, said Robyn Cardenas, the store's manager. The company also mailed out coupons valid throughout the sales tax holiday.

Things inside the store were slow through the week, Cardenas said, but the staff expected things to pick up as the weekend went on.

2010 has been a good year for JCPenney and the staff expects a 5 percent to 10 percent gain during the weekend, said Brian Patteson, store manager. He said he expects clothes to sell well, especially since JCPenney recently began selling the Liz Claiborne line.

The store set out more merchandise than usual, beefed up its staff and extended its hours to 11 p.m. throughout the weekend, he said.

Target saw strong school supply sales all week, store manager Mike Yokum said, and many people likely held off clothes shopping until they could get tax savings.

Friday tends to be the store's busiest day, Yokum explained, and Saturday tends to be busy between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. On Sundays, it's hard to know what will happen.

The Buckle's staff began getting back-to-school shoppers last week, but prepared for the weekend with a work night, said Courtney Zimmermann, a full-time sales leader. That included getting mannequins out and arranging merchandise.

The store offers more guys' polos than usual because of school dress codes, she said. The store also has tops for girls to layer under school shirts.

Zimmerman said the weekend was off to a positive start.

"So far, it's been good," she said.

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