Editor’s Desk

Column: Tax-free weekend’s last hurrah

August 2, 2013 

Imagine this scenario, if you will: Some genius in state government decides Tar Heel beaches are too valuable an asset to allow people to tread on them or swim their surfs. To stop the waste use of such a valuable asset, the General Assembly decrees that the following weekend will be the last time people will be allowed on the state’s beaches ... forever.

The crowds on that last weekend would be monstrous as North Carolinians flocked to the already popular shores up and down the North Carolina coast.

That idea might seem preposterous, but there is a real-life comparison, and we’re living it this weekend. Sunday marks the last day of North Carolina’s tax-free weekend. And thanks to the General Assembly, it’s the last tax-free weekend North Carolina will have.

The move will return about $14 million to the state’s treasury.

But more importantly, it most likely drove shoppers into stores in greater numbers than in past years.

Shoppers who may not have worried too much about saving seven cents on the dollar in the past, are much likely to have been energized over the weekend, knowing it’s the last opportunity they’ll have for the foreseeable future to save money without Uncle Pat getting it.

While it’s doubtful the crowds will be as large as those in the final few shopping days before Christmas, it figures there will be a great many people intent on finding some deal – any deal – on computers, pencils, notebook paper, bookbags and the like.

Fatefully, I will be out of town during tax-free weekend. I won’t be tempted (coerced is a better word) by my wife, to make a “quick” trip the store for one more school supply. Shopping is such a grueling experience for me that I find myself working hard to avoid it at all costs.

My wife recently bought a sport coat for me. It was a little too small, so she took it back and got a larger size. The second coat was too small, too.

“Why don’t I go with you the next time?” I suggested, realizing immediately after I spoke that I’d been tricked.

On Tuesday night, though, I dutifully, traveled to the store with Becky, the offending jacket hanging from the hook in the back seat.

Mercifully, we were able to quickly return the jacket and trudge across the store to the racks of sport coats. Who knew there was a need for so many sport coats in a single store? I picked up the first jacket I saw that was a size larger than the one we returned. It fit. We paid for it and skipped out, having spent less than 10 minutes in the store.

Chances are, shoppers this weekend didn’t get out of any store in less than 10 minutes. In fact, I suspect most of them spent that long just standing in line to pay for their tax-free purchases. After all, it’s the last chance they’ll have to take advantage of that soon-to-disappear opportunity.

Next weekend, I think we’ll head to the beach. Just in case.

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