LUMBERTON — Retailers are gearing up for big crowds on Friday — the first day of North Carolina’s annual tax-free weekend that is expected to pack stores with shoppers seeking a break on their back-to-school lists.
“Every little penny counts,” said Mecca Watkins as she and her 9-year-old daughter Tara browsed the Walmart at Fayetteville Road on Wednesday night. “I was just telling my daughter, we’re going to wait and get it Friday, just to save what we can save.”
For Walmart, the tax-free weekend will begin today at midnight.
“We’ve got products staged and ready to go,” store manager John Hendren said. “I think that it’s going to be very busy. With the combination of items being tax-free and it being the first of the month … we’re anticipating a big weekend.”
The annual tax holiday will run through Sunday, during which the following items can be purchased without paying the 7 percent local sales tax — clothing, shoes, and school supplies up to $100; school instructional materials up to $300; sports and recreational equipment up to $50; computers $3,500 or less; and computer supplies up to $250.
Department store JCPenney, in Biggs Park Mall, will open its doors at 9 a.m. on Friday and 8 a.m. on Saturday, and will be open until 10 p.m. on both days. On Sunday, the store will be open from noon to 8 p.m.
Chelsea Biggs, mall manager, said that many retailers, including Rue 21, Rainbow and Shoe Show will also open at 9 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. Belk, also in Biggs Park Mall, will open its doors at 10 a.m. on Friday and at 9 a.m. on Saturday, and close at 10 p.m. on both days. The store will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday.
Sandra Hayes, sales team manager at Belk, said the store expects a projected sales boost of up to 40 percent. Hayes said the store will be having a “back-to-school” sale, as well as “doorbusters” to coincide with the tax holiday.
“On weekends like this, it’s very limited as to who is able to take a day off,” Hayes said of Belk employees.
Hendren said that Walmart has marked down summer items and toys to “take advantage of additional customer traffic.” JCPenney store manager Vickie Britt said that employees will be working tonight to discount merchandise for the store’s “best-deal Friday,” during which clearance items are marked down to as little as $2.
Missy Oxendine said she was out shopping for her nephew Ayden on Tuesday and Wednesday just to avoid the large crowds that the tax breaks bring.
“I just can’t go through all that stress to save a few dollars,” she said. “I’m just not that kind of person.”
Blondell Smith, of Lumberton, who plans to shop for clothes for her 6-year-old grandson, Joseph, doesn’t plan to linger long with the large crowds.
“I’m going to get out early, get it done, and get home,” she said.
A full list of items that are tax-exempt can be found at http://www.dornc.com/taxes/sales/salestax_holiday.html.