City should take part in sales tax holiday

Published 3:20 pm Wednesday, July 17, 2013

For the fourth year in a row, the City of Brewton has missed an opportunity to take part in the state’s sales tax holiday for back-to-school items.

The tax holiday is set to take place on the first weekend of August — the same weekend our neighbors to the south will have their Florida tax-free weekend.

The reasoning we’ve always been given from city officials is that Brewton and East Brewton can’t afford to lose that tax revenue that weekend.

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Really? It can’t cost that much to lose three days of tax revenue from school uniforms, notebooks and pencils. Meanwhile, our local merchants can lose a lot of money if shoppers take their business out of town.

Of course, if we’re being honest, shoppers don’t save that much by not paying the tax on back-to-school items.

But tax-free weekends take advantage of what marketing experts know: A sale or discount, even a small one, gives shoppers the psychological boost they need to spend money.

Just ask the former CEO of JC Penney, the struggling department store chain; he lost his job after he got rid of their famous sales, a terrible misjudgment of how the store’s shoppers shop.

Witness how many people on The Brewton Standard’s Facebook page who, after learning the city wouldn’t take part in the tax-free weekend, declared they were taking their business to Pensacola instead.

Shoppers, listen to us: You will save more money by shopping at home and paying the sales tax than you will be spending the gas money to get to Pensacola.

But city officials, we hope you will listen to listen to these arguments as well, and vote next year to join the tax-free weekend.

You can’t expect people to shop at home when you don’t offer them that break, no matter how slight.

It’s about psychology, not money.