Texas Tax Plan Popular in Oklahoma
Talley, Tim, THE JOURNAL RECORD
Susan Hanna's annual trek to Texas started out as just a long weekend shopping junket with some girlfriends.
But the timing of Hanna's excursions south of the Red River took on new urgency a couple of years ago when Texas inaugurated a sales tax holiday for back-to-school shoppers during the first weekend in August.
"And then it was like, oh, cool, we like this," Hanna said.
The three-day tax holiday, which ended Sunday, permits shoppers to buy clothing and footwear tax-free as long as the price of each article is less than $100. Shoppers save about $8 on every $100 they spend. Oklahoma's state sales tax is 4.5 percent, but additional local sales tax brings the overall rate to about 8 percent in most areas of the state.
"The reality is we definitely save money on clothes," said Hanna, who travels 200 miles from her home in Oklahoma City to Dallas to find the best bargains. "We hit the sales along with the tax-free situation."
"The people I'm going with are spending a small fortune. To me it's just the perfect thing for back to school."
They are part of an annual migration of Oklahoma shoppers who go to Texas each year during tax holiday to stock up on clothing and other merchandise.
"Our mall does about 60 to 65 percent Oklahoma traffic," said John Kellogg, general manager of the Gainesville Outlet Shopping Mall, a collection of 79 stores just across the Oklahoma border along Interstate 35.
"This weekend was very busy and a lot of that comes from Oklahoma," Kellogg said. "Last year was up 14 percent."
While popular with shoppers, Texas' retail bonanza has hurt Oklahoma merchants, especially those close to the border.
"We do feel as though it hurts us. It does hurt our economy here," said Stephanie Andrews, vice president of the chamber of commerce in Ardmore, 30 minutes away from the Gainesville shopping mall.
"You can call it a gimmick. You can call it what you want. But it does attract people," said state Rep. Danny Hilliard, D-Sulphur, whose district lies less than one hour away from the mall.
"Probably the most dangerous place to be today is the southbound lane of I-35."
"There goes our money again, rattlin' around in Texas' economy," said state Rep. …