Retailers and shoppers gearing up for historic back-to-school sales tax holiday

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This year marks the first in Florida history where personal computers and accessories are considered school supplies in Florida’s Back-to-School sales tax holiday, and Florida retailers are ramping up for consumers to take full advantage of the savings and markdowns. 

Between August 2 and 4, clothing and shoes up to $75 and school supplies up to $15 will be tax exempt, as they have been in previous years, with the addition of personal computers and accessories selling for up to $750. Personal computers are defined broadly by the law to include electronic readers, laptops, desktops, tablets or handhelds for noncommercial use, along with related keyboards, mice, personal digital assistants, monitors without TV tuners, modems, routers and non-recreational software.  Cell phones and video games are not eligible for tax breaks.

Retailers expect an average increase of between 30 and 40 percent in store traffic over the sales tax holiday weekend, according to the Florida Retail Federation, and stores are expected to boost staffing by about 20 percent to accommodate shoppers.

Back-to-school shopping is a big deal for families: a National Retail Federation survey predicts that those with school-aged children will spend an average of $634.78 for their kids in 2013. 

The tax holiday measure was passed by the 2013 Legislature within an economic development bill sponsored by Sen. Andy Gardiner and Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto. It passed unanimously through both chambers.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.