GAFFNEY, S.C. (WSPA) – Dozens of stores at the Gaffney Outlet Marketplace are offering sales throughout tax-free weekend in addition to the local and state tax-free incentives to drive back-to-school sales.
Many stores there have face mask requirements and two stores, Coach and POLO Ralph Lauren, are offering curbside pickup to make shopping safer.
A National Retail Federation survey found 63 percent of families with school-aged children plan to buy laptops and other electronics during tax-free weekend. It also found that 88 percent of Americans said their shopping habits would likely be influenced by the Coronavirus pandemic.
Greenville native Bob Neel said the pandemic will not deter his wife from taking advantage of big sales this weekend, but believes that’s not the case for many others. “There’s so much fear out there, it won’t motivate them to go buy,” he said. “Me? It wouldn’t bother me at all.”
The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs (SCDCA) is encouraging consumers to navigate tax-free shopping August 7-9 by taking anti-fraud precautions online, following face mask ordinances in person, and practicing smart shopping habits.
- Be on-guard as you shop online. Because of Coronavirus, you may be looking to do your back-to-school shopping online. SCDCA has compiled five ways to keep your information safe while browsing and buying online.
- Check mask ordinances, guidelines and store offerings before heading out. If you choose to shop in-store, double check for mask ordinances in the city/county the store is located so you can be prepared. Many stores offer delivery or curbside pick-upto simplify your shopping trip. Make sure to read the terms and conditions to find out if there are any fees associated with these extra services.
- Decide your payment method. When shopping in a store, pay with cash if you have trouble sticking to a budget. If you prefer shopping online, a credit card offers more consumer fraud protections than a debit card.
- Make a list and stick to it. Review the Department of Revenue’s (SCDOR) website for a general list of items that are tax exempt as well as ones that are not. A list will help save time and avoid impulse buying and overspending.
- Know the return policy. Review return and exchange policies online so you know before you go. Don’t see it in store? Ask, especially if you are purchasing items that often have a restocking fee, like computers.
- Review financial statements. Security breaches often happen during heavily trafficked shopping times. Read your financial statements during the tax-free weekend and beyond, ensuring there are no errors or fraudulent charges. If there are, dispute them immediately.
According to the South Carolina Department of Revenue, eligible items can be purchased online or in-store without paying the state’s 6 percent sales tax and any applicable local taxes during the three-day tax holiday.
The SCDOR states that tax-free items include:
- School supplies
- Clothing and accessories
- Certain bed and bath items
Items that are not tax-free this weekend:
- Digital cameras
- Rental clothing or footwear
- Items for use in a trade or business
Consumers with questions about the tax-free weekend can visit the SCDOR website dedicated to the sales tax holiday. For more consumer tips, or to get assistance if you find suspicious charges or errors on your accounts, visit www.consumer.sc.gov or call SCDCA toll-free in SC at 1 (800) 922-1594.