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The Cost of Going Back to School



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Washington, D.C. - Schools around the nation are gearing up for the return of students and teachers to the classroom and it won't be cheap. Many parents and children are shopping for clothes, shoes, supplies, accessories, and computers -- none of which are exactly inexpensive these days.

The demand for stylish clothing and new technology can wreak havoc on a pocketbook, but there may be some relief. This year, more U.S. states are offering tax-free shopping holidays for specified periods of time. The days are usually proposed by a legislative act and allows consumers to shop for school-related items on specified days before the beginning of school. All of the following states have tax-free shopping days or weekends scheduled for 2007: Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts Missouri, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Washington D.C.

For more specific information about when tax-free shopping days are scheduled, and which items qualify as tax free - check each states' official deparment of revenue website.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over $7.1 billion dollars was spent at family clothing stores in August 2006. Only in November and December — the holiday shopping season — were sales significantly higher. Similarly, sales at bookstores in August 2006 totaled $2.1 billion, an amount approached in 2006 only by sales in January and December. Totals for the 2007-2008 are expected to be even higher.

With close to 78 million children and adults enrolled in school throughout the country, retailers are looking for huge gains -- especially when it comes to new techology. Computers, wireless phones, hardware, and software make up an increasing amount of sales during the back to school shopping season. Not included in shopping statistics 20 years ago, technolgy sales are now responsible for millions of dollars in annual back to school revenues. Approximately 71% of children ages 3 to 17 use a computer at home to complete school assignments. This was the second most common home computer use for children, behind playing games.

"I only plan to spend about $250 per child this year," says Karen Mae, a South Carolina mother who has two pre-teens heading back to school in August. "I know it's not a lot to spend and I'm sure they want more stuff, but with new outfits, cell phones, notebooks, pens and other things - it can add up. I'm glad there is a tax free holiday here in South Carolina. It will help a lot," Mae said.

For more information about back to school facts and figures, visit: U.S. Census Bureau Facts for Features.

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