Don't give in to that impulse purchase just yet. If you wait until next week, you can save the state's 6% sales tax on clothing and footwear that costs less than $300. If you carry an iBlast card, you could be in for even greater savings in New Canaan.
The tax-exempt week begins on Sunday, August 15 and will continue through Saturday, August 21.
The tax holiday week began in 2000 and has been an August staple in the state ever since. The legislature considered doing away with it in 2006, but quickly reconsidered, and it has been in place ever since. The Department of Revenue Services oversees the program.
"There's no sunset on it," said Sarah Kaufman, Director of Communications for the Department of Revenue Services. " Every year we get calls starting about May from retailers confirming it's still there. We tell them it's not going away."
Local retailers look forward to the boost in business.
"Tax free week is a big deal this year because of the faltering economy," said Diane Roth, owner of L'Armoire, a local boutique. "It affects everyone. It gives you a lift in the dog days of August to get people in and to get them to think Fall. It's about multiple unit buying. Saving that 6%, and people with an i-Blast card can save up to 16% here."
i-Blast, which stands for "I Buy Local And Shop In Town", is program subscribed to by New Canaan merchants to encourage people to shop in town. Each merchant offers a different incentive to i-Blast carriers.
At True Blue, on Elm Street, the tax exemption has already been programmed into the computer, said store manager Brenda Connolly. "Last year it did make a difference on new fall clothing. It got people out shopping a little bit early."
Clothing that costs less than $50 is tax exempt year round, so next week's holiday applies to items that cost between $50 and $300. At Candy Nichols, a children's clothing store, owner Elizabeth Correa said the advantage is that it puts people in a buying mood.
"Most things in this store don't cost more than $50, so they wouldn't pay tax anyway," she said. "People will come in to buy down jackets and outerwear. Once they're here they'll buy more. But we're not into $200 jeans. We like to keep things affordable."
The shoppers' savings means less money for the state. Kaufman said Connecticut expects to forego $3.5 million in revenue this year, slightly more than the $3.1 million shoppers saved last year. That's just fine with her.
"The program is an overall benefit to the state," Kaufman said. "It's spurring on the economy. People have an opportunity to save money. They take the savings from sales tax and they put it into other purchases."
Not everyone can curb the impulse to save on sales tax. Liz Unger was at Athletic Shoe Factory this morning, shopping for sneakers for her six-year-old daughter, Elena. "It's not really on my radar screen," she said of the tax holiday. "I get things done when I can. She needed sneakers so she's getting sneakers."
Reuven Frank, the sales associate helping the Ungers, jumped in to point out that the sneakers cost less than $50 and were already tax-free. Elena took a trial lap around the store and decided the sneakers fit just right. And the sale was made.