TALLAHASSEE – Florida retailers are looking to boost summer sales with the start of the back-to-school sales tax “holiday” on Monday.
The tax break, which runs until August 6, will allow shoppers to pay no sales taxes on clothing, shoes, school supplies and personal computers. Lawmakers and Gov. Ron DeSantis also approved a second similar holiday to be held during the first two weeks of January, providing an opportunity to restock early in the spring semester.
Florida Retail Federation President and CEO Scott Shelley was cautiously optimistic about the upcoming discount period as “some of our stores are down a bit.”
“Hopefully the back-to-school sales tax holiday will encourage people to get out and patronize their local retailer,” Shelley said.
National chains such as Office Depot, Best Buy, Kohl’s and Target have already announced school sales, with some including discount programs for students and teachers.
Deloitte Consulting warned that tight household budgets and continued high prices after two years of inflation could dampen the back-to-school season.
“Parents are likely to be strategic about their spending to help children prepare for success at the start of the school year by updating school supplies but possibly putting off new clothes until they are needed,” Nick Handrinos, Deloitte vice chairman and leader of U.S. retail, wholesale, distribution and consumer products, said in a prepared statement.
Consumers spend an average of $597 per student in grades kindergarten through 12th grade, according to Deloitte Consulting, in preparation for school.
The projected average is down 10 percent from 2022 but 12.2 percent higher than in 2019, the year before the COVID-19 pandemic. Apparel spending is expected to be down 14% year-over-year and technology spending down 13%.
The projected decline in technology spending is partly due to many parents shopping during the pandemic due to distance learning, according to Deloitte.
Shelley said electronics will continue to be the driving force behind sales during the upcoming tax holiday.
“Everything we’ve seen shows projections mostly on the back of the electronics,” said Shelley. “So, whether it’s laptops or tablets or calculators, we’re still seeing growth in this area.”
Two school holidays were included in the broad tax package (HB 7063) approved in May. These are expected to amount to $160.6 million of the $965.6 million in tax savings in the package.
Bill Herrl, executive director of Florida’s National Federation of Independent Business, said the upcoming holiday is a chance to help local businesses during “difficult economic times.”
Since 1998, there has been a school tax holiday almost every year, usually lasting three to nine days. The holiday was extended to 10 days in 2021 and 14 days last year as the state treasury was bolstered with federal COVID-19 stimulus money and higher-than-expected tax revenue.
Here’s a look at what lawmakers have included in the school holidays:
—Customers will not have to pay sales taxes on clothing, purses, handbags, backpacks, fanny packs, shoes, and diaper bags valued at $100 or less. Briefcases, suitcases, clothing bags, skis, fins, rollerblades and ice skates are not included.
—Buyers will not have to pay taxes on the sales of pens, pencils, erasers, crayons, notepads, notepad paper, notepads, binders, lunchboxes, colored papers, markers, folders, poster boards, poster notebooks, poster paper, scissors, cellophane tape, glue, paste, rulers, computer disks, staplers, staples, protractors, compasses and calculators $50 or less.
—Customers will not have to pay taxes on sales of learning aids and puzzles, ranging from flashcards and memory games to puzzle books and toys designed to teach reading or math that cost $30 or less.
—Customers will not have to pay taxes on sales of personal computers and related accessories such as keyboards and monitors that cost $1,500 or less. Cell phones, game consoles and digital media receivers are not included.