Tax-free holiday means back-to-school bargains

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks
Stephanie Jones, left, and her Stepson David Jones of Clovis see what they plan on buying during Tax Free Days Friday through Sunday at J.C. Penney at the North Plains Mall.

By Tonya Fennell: CNJ staff writer

With two children gearing up for the new school year, Clara Hawkins is preparing to shop for clothing and school supplies.

In previous years, the Clovis mother made an annual trip to her home state of Texas to shop during the tax holiday. Since she generally spends $250 on clothing alone for each child, Hawkins said the trip was well worth it. But with the high price of gas, she plans to remain in Clovis to shop during the second annual New Mexico tax holiday this weekend.

“I’m very excited,” she said. “I think it is wonderful. I can use the local stores and help build Clovis.”

Beginning at 12:01 a.m. Friday, Clovis residents can shop for clothing, footwear and school supplies tax exempt. The sale will continue until midnight on Sunday. Shoppers can save up to 7.4375 percent in Curry County.

Nontaxable items include clothing and footwear of $100 or less and school supplies. Computers priced at $1,000 and below and related items such as printers and monitors priced at $500 and below will also be nontaxable.

North Plains Mall has held an annual back-to-school shopping event for more than six years to stay competitive with a similar weekend in Texas.
The Texas tax holiday coincides with New Mexico’s this year. While football and baseball jerseys are tax exempt in Texas, other associated sports equipment, such as helmets, pads, mitts and cleats, remains taxable. Computers are not tax exempt in Texas.

Roger Williams, owner of Williams General Store in Muleshoe, said his store has participated in the tax-free holiday since it began six years ago. According to the business owner, socks, shoes and jeans are top sellers during the annual event.

“Last year we did pretty decent,” Williams said. “It (sales) varies, so we will see this year.”

Williams plans to extend his store’s Saturday hours to accommodate shoppers.

Gov. Bill Richardson said he pushed for the tax holiday to help families cut back-to-school costs and spur more retail activity in New Mexico.

“I encourage all New Mexicans to take advantage of this year’s back-to-school holiday,” Richardson said. “Families can save on school clothes and notebooks. Businesses can save on computers and office supplies, and the general public can save money on any number of items.”

According to Clovis News Journal archives, the tax holiday comprises 3 percent of annual sales for merchants at the North Plains Mall and is one of the biggest shopping weekends in the area.

Consuelo Pascual, manager of Dillard’s, said the tax holiday is highly anticipated because it marks the beginning of school. Pascual said the department store has been busy slashing prices for special sales and scheduling additional employees to assist shoppers.

“People shouldn’t have to wait in line,” Pascual said.

Hawkins said she isn’t worried about the possibility of long lines at the cash registers because it offers her a chance to visit with other shoppers.

“I won’t wait in line for gasoline,” she said, “but I will stand in line for a tax break, especially when there is air conditioning.”