A strong economy has store managers boosting their inventories in preparation for next weekend’s sales tax holiday for school-related items.

Most area retailers say the tax break weekend compares to Black Friday and the weekend before Christmas in sales. School supplies, clothing and electronics are the top-selling items, retailers said.

Retailers are required to participate and may not charge tax on items that are legally tax-exempt during the three-day sales tax holiday, the Alabama Department of Revenue said.

The manager at Martin’s Family Clothing Store of Decatur said shorts, T-shirts and blue jeans are always top-selling items. “This year the bell-bottomed blue jeans and shorts with fringe are popular,” said Charles Christopher. “The past couple of years, the strong economy has boosted our bottom line sales. We’re expecting another big weekend.”

Christopher said parents should check with schools’ clothing policies before shopping.

The state’s 14th annual sales tax holiday for school items runs from 12:01 a.m. Friday to midnight July 21, according to the Alabama Department of Revenue.

“This sales tax holiday weekend usually ranks in our top five weekends,” Christopher said. “It’s usually better than Easter sales.”

At Decatur Mall, Electronics Express Manager Zion Shreve said laptops, tablets and computer bags are expected to be popular items again this year.

He said the store has had a large number of inquires about the Microsoft Surface Pro Bundle and Google Pixel Book. “We’re probably bringing in 100% more inventory to meet the demand we expect,” Shreve said. “The sales tax holiday is a big deal for us. We’ve got to have what the customer wants.”

He said the Surface Pro Bundle sells for about $850 and Surface Go Bundle, a smaller version, sells for about $550.

A release from Walmart corporate headquarters said school supplies such as notebooks, pencils and backpacks continue to be top-selling items. “We anticipate for this year’s back-to-class season, many of those most sought-after items will remain high on the list,” the company said.

However the state places limits on spending on certain items. Computers and electronics have a $750 cap on each item. School supplies top out at $50 per item, clothing at $100 per item and books at $30 per item.

The state revenue department website said “clothing means all human wearing apparel suitable for general use including sandals, shoes and sneakers.” It said belt buckles sold separately, sewing equipment, protective equipment and sports equipment are some items ineligible for the tax break.

Furniture, software and video games of non-educational nature are also not eligible for the tax holiday either, the state said.

According to the National Retail Federation, parents spend just shy of $700 on back-to-school shopping. The federation said $237 is spent on school clothes.

“Parents also planned to spend about $187 on electronics, $139 on shoes and $122 on school supplies,” the federation’s website said.

Morgan, Lawrence and Limestone counties as well as each municipality in those counties have passed resolutions saying they will participate in the back-to-school tax holiday. County officials said they have standing resolutions passing the back-to-school tax break holiday.

Collin Daly, Limestone commissioner chairman, said the sales tax holiday helps families' budgets.

“Parents need to stretch the dollar every way you can, especially those with young kids,” he said.

mike.wetzel@decaturdaily.com or 256-340-2442. Twitter @DD_Wetzel.

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