Local News

Stores plan more deals on sales-tax-free weekend

Posted July 29, 2008 5:09 p.m. EDT
Updated July 29, 2008 9:24 p.m. EDT

— Some retailers are planning more sales to coincide with the state sales-tax-free holiday this weekend.

Stores at Durham's Northgate Mall are planning big sales to attract more shoppers. Northgate Mall Marketing Director Paula Harris characterized the sales as an effort to generate shopper “momentum” to the mall just before back-to-school shopping begins.

Some stores at The Streets at Southpoint in Durham are planning sales. Managers said, however, that the sales are not a result of a drop in retail business because of the economy.

“It’s more like we really want to offer some value to the customer. It’s the end of the season. Last year, we had a tremendous weekend,” said Bruno Roth, manager of Macy’s at Southpoint.

Roth said he expects Saturday to bring the highest sales of the summer season.

The sluggish economy and high gas prices have forced shoppers like Julianne Broomfield to re-think her purchases.

“It’s definitely made me think twice about whether I really need something or not,” Broomfield said.

Nonetheless, retail sales are slightly up from this time last year, according to the National Retail Federation.

Stores like Target are trying to capitalize on what has worked in the past by marking down back-to-school items this weekend.

“We are designated as what is considered one of the freaky stores simply because of the big amount of sales we do with back-to-school and back-to-college,” Target Manager Friedrich Rochleder said.

Regardless of which reason for sales they espouse, retailers are looking for a day with profits similar to the day after Thanksgiving.

“I’ve been in this business 25 years, and I think (that) this year of all years, if it hasn’t been a Black Friday, I think it will be this year,” Harris said.

Black Friday is a good term in retailing, referring to the day after Thanksgiving, when retailers look for shoppers to move them into the black for the year.

The sales tax holiday weekend begins Friday.Items exempt from sales tax this weekend include clothing, sports equipment and some school supplies.

The National Retail Federation estimates the average American will spend $594 on back-to-school shopping. More than $230 will be spent on clothing, $151 on electronics and $110 on shoes. The average person will spend less than $100 on actual school supplies.