Diane Orick says she plans to shop this weekend, even as people throng to Muskogee stores during the state's sales tax holiday.
"Yeah, I love crowds. I'm a true shopper," the Fort Gibson resident said. "And to bring four grandkids in a store at once takes a true shopper."
Through midnight Sunday, Oklahoma shoppers can buy certain shoes and garments without paying sales tax. People shopping in Muskogee usually pay 9.15 percent sales tax, which includes 4 percent city tax, 4.5 percent state and .65 percent county.
Although shoppers do not pay any sales tax during the weekend, the state does remit money to cities and counties for the tax-free weekend, said Joanne Kurjan, public affairs director for the Oklahoma Tax Commission. She said $6.9 million went back to cities and counties for that weekend in addition to the regular August reimbursement.
Muskogee City Treasurer Jean Kingston said Muskogee the apportions are based on a formula comparing the previous August collections to August collections from a benchmark year. If the collections fall below the benchmark, the city gets reimbursed. If collections are higher than the benchmark, the city does not get reimbursed for the lost sales tax, she said.
Muskogee has never received that reimbursement, Kingston said. Muskogee's total sales tax receipts for August 2011 were $1.87 million.
Area clothing and shoe stores say they're increasing stock, staying open longer and bringing in more employees to accommodate the extra crowds.
Some retailers say sales on the tax-free weekend top sales on weekends during Christmas shopping season, including Black Friday. Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is considered one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
Mark Toms, manager of Brown's Shoe Fit, said the store had three times as much in sales on Saturday during tax-free weekend 2011 as it did on Black Friday 2011.
"Easily, tax-free weekend is one of our busiest times," Toms said.
"It's crazy busy," said Candi Starkey, who has sold shoes at Brown's for 10 years.
Sabrina Taylor, manager of the Cato clothing store, said the store might see more people on Black Friday. However, more people buy something during the tax-free weekend.
"People are more purposeful in their shopping," Taylor said. "School is starting up."
Taylor figured the store makes $7,000 during the sales tax holiday compared to $4,000 on a regular weekend. She said Black Friday weekend sales might be $1,000 higher than regular weekend sales.
Stores in smaller communities see an added bonus.
"The sales tax holiday had always been better than Black Friday for us," said Drew Felts, manager of Felts Family Shoe Store in Tahlequah. Felts said sales are probably twice as good during the sale tax holiday than on regular weekends.
"In a small town like Tahlequah, Black Friday isn't that big," Felts said.
Diane Andrews, manager of Sharpe's Department Store in Eufaula, said she couldn't compare sales tax holiday sales with Black Friday sales.
"We're not as busy on Black Friday because of the electronics," Andrews said, referring to deep discounts on electronics at some stores. "But we usually get the left-over shoppers in the afternoon."
The Eufaula Sharpe's store will be open 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Andrews said. She said the store is open Sundays during the Christmas shopping season and on certain holiday weekends such as Independence Day.
Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogee
At a glance
--Sales tax holiday runs through midnight Sunday.
--Any article of clothing or footwear with a sales price less than $100 is exempt from state and city sales tax.
--Clothing and footwear not exempt from sales tax are items primarily designed for an athletic activity or protective use; accessories such as jewelry, watches, handbags and wallets; rented clothes or footwear.
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