North Carolina -- North Carolina's last tax-free holiday weekend commenced at 12:01 Friday morning, as shoppers flocked to stores to save on clothes, school supplies, computers and sporting equipment.
For the past 12 years of the holiday's existence in the state, it has been the second-busiest shopping holiday of the year, behind black Friday. But, with the governor's signing of the new budget a week ago, the tax holiday has been nixed for the future.
According to the North Carolina Department of Revenue, items that can be purchased without sales tax include clothing with a sales price of $100 or less--coats, jackets, hats, hosiery, scarves and shoes. Sporting equipment costing $50 or less also is tax-free.
Computers, tablet computers and netbooks with a sales price of $3,500 or less are tax free, as well as computer supplies-like printers, CDs, flash drives, printer ink and paper. However, people cannot purchase computer parts-like a mouse, speaker, keyboard or monitor unless those items are sold with the computer in a package deal.
Mobile phones also are not covered under the tax-free holiday, even though smart phones have computer functions. E-readers do count as tax-free, but only if they have computer functions of e-mail, internet or apps.
Despite expected crowds this weekend, Kohl's and Best Buy told News 2 they would be operating on regular hours. Wal-Mart is open 24/7, and shift managers at the Wendover Ave. location told News 2 Friday many shoppers converged on tax-free item aisles right at midnight, when the tax holiday began.
Wal-Mart shift manager Rick Tjalma said top items this year are both laptops and school supplies. There has been some confusion, managers said, about what constitutes as school supplies vs. non-tax-exempt office supplies (like Wite-Out ink), so the store has attached to the aisles lists of tax-free items.
Tjalma said though the number of people who come to the store for the tax-free holiday is larger than on a typical weekend, profits for the month tend to even out. Many shoppers who need certain items tend to wait until tax-free weekend to purchase those items, as opposed to shopping when they otherwise would.
Tjalma said the removal of the tax-free weekend in coming years will not affect stores, as much as it will the state. Last year, the state lost more than $13 million in tax revenue on tax-free weekend, and the Dept. of Revenue said it expects a similar loss this year.
Customers shopping at Wal-Mart Friday told News 2 this year's tax-free holiday is bittersweet. They said while they appreciate the ability to purchase items tax-free, they are fearful about not having the holiday next year. One man said, "Every little bit helps," when it comes to saving.
WFMY News 2 encourages people shopping at Wal-Mart to purchase extra school supplies to donate to the Tools for Schools campaign. Tools for Schools bins are marked near store entrances.