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Email insights: Florida’s longest back-to-school tax holiday starts Friday

in Apolitical/Top Headlines by

Returning to school may not be popular with students, but parents are looking forward to Florida’s annual sales tax holiday and the associated back-to-school sales.

A new email from the Florida Retail Federation reminds everyone that the 2015 sales tax holiday begins Friday, August 7, and runs through 11:59 p.m. Aug. 16.

The 10-day extension is the longest back-to-school shopping holiday since the practice began in 1998, giving consumers two full weekends to shop for necessary school supplies, clothing and other needs.

Tax-free items during the holiday include clothing, footwear, wallets and bags priced up to $100 per item, school supplies priced $15 or less, and the first $750 of a personal computer or related accessories. The full list of items is available here.

“We are excited about the extended sales tax holiday that families and shoppers of all ages will be able to take advantage of,” said FRF CEO Rick McAllister. “Florida’s more than 270,000 retailers have been preparing for this popular holiday and are ready with great sales and opportunities for shoppers to save on clothing, supplies, and technology items.”

According to the Monthly Consumer Survey from the National Retail Federation, 29 percent of households with school-age kids nationwide are planning to spend more than last year on back-to-school items, up from nearly 24 percent saying the same thing last year.

For those going to college, nearly three in 10 students and families plan to spend more this summer, up from 23 percent last year.

The FRF found that many consumers believe the overall economy will impact back-to-school and college spending. Of those surveyed, 32 percent of shoppers for college students will comparison shop online for the best deals, up from almost 28 percent last year. More than 31 percent of school shoppers will compare prices online, slightly more than the nearly 30 percent who said they would last year.

The National Retail Federation estimated the Florida tax holiday will save families up to $40 per child on back-to-school shopping.

Online purchases are included in the tax-free holiday as long as they are made during the sales tax holiday.

As for individual stores, many will be offering special sales to coincide with the holiday. Staples will have its teacher rewards program – with 2 percent back and free shipping for purchases through its website. Office Depot/Office Max also have annual teacher appreciation days – from Aug. 1 to Aug. 4 and Aug. 29 to Sept. 1 – with 25 percent off certain purchases and a free calendar. Best Buy will have other student deals, listed at BestBuy.com/StudentDeals.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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