SC's tax-free weekend might not bring savings shoppers hoped for

Published: Jul. 31, 2014 at 4:01 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 1, 2014 at 11:42 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Let the shopping begin!

The tax-free weekend kicked off at midnight Friday.

This weekend, South Carolina shoppers won't have to pay the six percent state sales tax, as well as local taxes, for a number of items.

According to the Department of Revenue it's the third busiest shopping period, behind Christmas and Black Friday. South Carolinians are expected to spend $3 million this weekend, according to the Department of Revenue.

To many financial experts, the savings might not be worth it.

"I think the sales tax holiday tends to be more of a gimmick," said College of Charleston Associate Professor in the Department of Economic and Finance Calvin Blackwell.

Blackwell has worked in finance for more than 20 years. He says the tax-free weekend has a complicated relationship with people on both sides of the checkout counter.

"For the individual consumer sure, it clearly is worth it," said Blackwell. "That is, if there's a significant expense that you think you're going to undertake."

He says, if you're not spending big bucks, he suggests you stay away.

"There's some research that indicates that when we have sales tax holidays, retailers actually raise their prices a little bit," said Blackwell. "So it's not as if you're necessarily saving the entire amount on the tax."

Despite that retail offset, stores aren't necessarily reaping the benefits.

"The more complicated you make the tax system, the less it's going to help economic growth, the less it's going to help consumers, the less it's going to help business," said Blackwell. "It seems to be a phenomenon that sort of caught on about 15 to 20 years ago."

Now, almost 20 states participate. Blackwell says, don't be reeled in too quick.

"I would say because it's good politics, not because it's good economics," Blackwell said.

As shoppers hit the isles, Blackwell's biggest advice is: be careful.

SC stores are expected to see even more business this year because North Carolina no long participates in the tax-free holiday. That means shoppers will like cross state lines to participate in the savings.

Exempt items according to


  • Clothing
  • Clothing Accessories, including hats, scarves, hosiery and handbags.
  • Footwear.
  • School supplies.
  • Computers, printers and printer supplies, and computer software.
  • Bath wash clothes, blankets, bed spreads, bed linens, sheet sets, comforter sets, bath towels, shower curtains, bath rugs and mats, pillows and pillow cases.

Some of the more unusual items that fall more unexpectedly under the umbrella of exempt items include baby diapers, adult diapers, aprons, bridal gowns, corsets, costumes, ice skates, and lingerie.

Items that will not be exempt during Tax Free Weekend include:

  • Jewelry, cosmetics, eyewear, wallets, watches.
  • Furniture, including mattress and box springs.
  • Sale of an item placed on layaway or similar deferred payment.
  • Rental of clothing or footwear.
  • Cell phones, smartphone's, digital cameras and music players.
  • Houseware and cookware.
  • Sporting equipment like baseball mitts, golf clubs, helmets, hockey mitts, life jackets, etc.
  • Bathroom supplies like soap, shower curtain rods, toothbrush holders, toilet paper, wastebaskets

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