Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Tax-Free Holiday No Boon Businesses Push Own Big Discounts

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Tax-Free Holiday No Boon Businesses Push Own Big Discounts

Article excerpt

Don't expect Florida's one-week sales tax holiday that begins

tomorrow to trigger a back-to-school shopping stampede into

stores, retailers say. But it will help business.

"Anything we get will be a nice bonus," said David Bothe, vice

president of marketing and advertising for Jacksonville-based

Stein Mart Inc., which operates stores nationwide. "But we are

not expecting huge increases from it."

What is going to really fill shopping bags for the

second-most-critical shopping season in the year -- after the

Christmas season -- are the stores' own heavy-duty promotional

programs with traditional big price discounts, which have been

well under way.

For example, Stein Mart had a big sale this month featuring

discounts in the 25 percent to 40 percent range that attracted a

lot of shoppers. The company is ready to roll out other

promotions.

But the sales tax holiday is not a big factor in those plans.

"We are not changing our overall strategy," Bothe said.

And that one-week period, while important, also seems to be

less crucial to retailers than it used to be.

Bob Rojas, a senior Target Stores executive in charge of 13

stores in central Florida, said that the back-to-school selling

season is longer than it was a few years ago.

"Back-to-school is kind of getting spread out," he said.

And not only does the back-to-school season last longer, but the

cool stuff moves quickly. So shoppers come early in the season

to get exactly what they want, further diluting the importance

of the one-week tax break.

For example, take khaki.

"Khakis are really hot," said Stephanie Brown, a spokeswoman

for Penney's.

Wait too long, and the pickings will be slim, she said.

Still, the retailers are making sure they prepare properly for

the sales-tax holiday.

Penney's is training its sales people on how to handle the

paperwork and also is putting up posters in stores to guide

consumers, she said. …

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