Back to school Retailers, customers gain from tax-free week
As last week’s tax-free shopping offered a chance for residents to save some money, it also was an opportunity for southwestern Connecticut retailers to capitalize on a spike in business as families prepared for a new school year.
“We definitely felt a bump, which was great. Everybody loves saving some money, and it’s a perfect time to do it right before school,” said Dave Schneider, co-owner of Jimmy’s, one of the longest running clothing stores in Bridgeport, with another store in Hamden.
While the statewide sales tax holiday allowed shoppers to purchase most clothing and footwear priced below $100 without the usual 6.35 percent sales tax, Schneider said they chose not to limit their customers.
Advertising that the store would “pay your taxes,” the family-owned and run business extended the tax-free sale to items above the $100 threshold, absorbing the cost from the sales tax.
“We think that that’s not right,” he said. “You might as well give everybody the bang for their buck for the week.”
Though official numbers haven’t been released, the state Department of Revenue Services had projected that shoppers would avoid more than $4 million in taxes during the period from Aug. 19 to 25.
Shelton-based shoe retailers Hawley Lane Shoes, which has locations in Orange, Norwalk and Stamford, also chose to help customers save above the $100 threshold.
Co-owner Joe Gradia said the locally owned stores also offered customers savings on items of any price, paying the 6.35 percent in the form of a discount.
“We’ve made it more meaningful,” he said. “People really appreciate it because that’s something they look forward to. When I was a kid I would look forward to it.”
The shoe store brand didn’t stop there, however. Along with offering Tax Free Week savings last week, Gradia said they began the sales tax holiday a week early and plan to continue it through to Labor Day, absorbing the additional costs.
Though the benefit for customers is evident, Gradia said retailers, particularly local businesses, stand to gain from the experience, as well, particularly in building their customer base.
“What you’re not getting on the internet that you’re getting from us is that customer service and giving back to the community,” Gradia said. “We want to support the community and that ‘shop local’ theme.”