Nearly half of Georgia consumers schedule their back-to-school shopping around tax holidays. According to the Mid-Year 2015 Consumer Survey conducted by the Georgia Credit Union Affiliates (GCUA), 46 percent of respondents plan to take advantage of a tax-free holiday.
The Federation of Tax Administrators shows 16 states in the U.S. are scheduled to participate in a tax-free holiday in 2015. Most states participating will offer tax breaks on items such as computers, school supplies, clothing and books. Depending on the state, there are varying price caps placed on individual items during tax-free shopping days.
The National Retail Federation’s (NRF) 2014 Back-to-School Survey revealed the average family with children in grades K-12 in 2014 spent approximately $669.28 on apparel, shoes, supplies and electronics. Total spending on back to school dropped slightly in 2014 to $26.5 billion, as the survey found there were slightly fewer students in households.
A recent poll by NRF found 29 percent of households with school-age children plan to spend more than last year for back-to-school items.
“Our credit union’s field of membership consists of educators and our busiest time of the year is the summer months,” said Stephen Smith, president and CEO of Fulton Teachers’ Credit Union. “Our branch managers, loan officers and member service representatives are busy from the time we open to the time we close. The last two summers have been busier than the years of the Great Recession and we get many requests for back-to-school loans for books, clothes and more.”
The GCUA survey revealed that 51 percent of respondents prefer to buy school supplies as needed while 42 percent stock up when they run across a bargain. Smith recommends that whether a parent or educator, when it comes to back-to-school shopping consumers should shop wisely and not wait until the last minute.
“The tax-free holiday is a great time for members to save additional dollars,” Smith said.
Tips for saving on back-to-school purchases:
- Hold off on buying trendy gear. Kids may love a certain lunch box or graphic folder they find in July, but once they start school and see their friends are all using another kind, they’ll beg you to upgrade them. This results in wasted cash. Purchase mostly generic supplies and just buy one or two trendier items until later in the year.
- Start early and buy basics in bulk. Certain items are a must each year. You already know you’ll need pencils, pens, paper and notebooks. When you see a bargain, stock up on basic supplies. Then set up a supply shelf for the kids that can be used all year round.
- Shop at home first. Before venturing out to the store, take inventory of what supplies you already have at home. Let the kids get involved in the process and have them check around the house for glue, pencils, paper and other necessities.
- Take advantage of tax-free holidays. Many states have sales-tax holidays throughout the year on a variety of goods, including clothing, electronics and school supplies. Go to www.tax-rates.org to learn what items are tax free and when. If you hate the crowds, consider doing some tax-free online shopping.
- To learn more about credit unions in your community and how they help people afford life, visit:http://www.asmarterchoice.org/.