Back-to-school shoppers get tax relief

BY Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent

For the sixth straight year, Texas businesses will be offering clothing items tax-free this weekend in the hopes of luring shoppers just outside the state border.

The tax-free weekend begins at 12:01 a.m. Friday and ends late Sunday evening, near midnight. The timing of the event is especially meant to attract parents who are looking for back-to-school clothing for their kids, according to Alison Eshelman, a representative with the Texas governor’s office.
At least one area resident said that in the past the incentive has been enough to draw her to either Amarillo or Lubbock for a weekend shopping trip.

“I did that last year. Yeah, I thought it was worth it,” said Lydia Alfaro of Muleshoe while shopping in Clovis on Monday for her two sons. “This year, I started getting stuff so early, now I really only need little things.”

Others, though, are dubious about the savings that they’ll get — and whether it’s enough to make up for the gas money spent to get there.

“No, I’m not going to go, because I figure that they raise the price anyway to make up the difference,” said Clovis resident Irene Chavez, who was shopping for her two daughters on Monday. “I figure they have to make up the money somehow.”

Chavez, however, said trips into West Texas to shop are part of her family’s buying habits.

“We were just in Lubbock (Sunday) shopping for clothes,” Chavez said. “We didn’t find much. We always end up back at (here) anyway.”

Just in case the tax-free weekend does threaten to put a dent in their normal business, some Clovis retailers are taking a proactive approach.

Many businesses at the North Plains Mall are offering a discount on many items that would be equal to the savings customers would receive in Texas this weekend.

“The natural thing for any small community is that people go to bigger places because they think they have a bigger selection,” said Mark Anderson, manager at the J.C. Penney’s in Clovis. “But I think you can find anything here in Clovis that you can get (in Lubbock or Amarillo).”

Anderson said that his store has been offering the discount to coincide and compete with Texas’ tax-free weekend for several years.

Last year, the same weekend turned into one of the biggest of the year for the Clovis outlet, Anderson said.

Now that the discount is in place again for his business, Anderson is counting on local advertising to make sure Clovis customers are at least equally aware of the savings locally as they are of the Texas tax-free weekend.