SC tax holiday draws bigger crowds, York County merchants say

Merchants in York County said the three-day South Carolina sales tax holiday that wrapped up Sunday brought in more business than last year – largely because North Carolina discontinued its tax-free weekend.

The Target store in Rock Hill was unusually busy Sunday morning, said Michelle Appleyard, executive team leader of human resources.

“It’s a lot more than last year because of the North Carolina tax holiday going away,” she said.

Edward Young drove to the store from Charlotte with his wife and two sons, who are heading into kindergarten and fourth grade.

“We try to get some school supplies a little bit cheaper,” he said. “We decided to hop over the border and come on down.” He said the family’s school supply list is long, and they expected to spend $150 at Target.

The nearby Best Buy store opened an hour earlier than normal to accommodate the expected crowds. General manager Temiko Griffin said the store saw customers from as far away as Winston-Salem who came because of the tax-free weekend.

The sales tax holiday allowed shoppers to save on their purchases of school-related items such as clothing, supplies, computers and sports equipment. The sales tax rate in York and Lancaster counties is 7 percent.

North Carolina introduced its back-to-school sales tax holiday 12 years ago, but lawmakers did away with it last year as part of a broader tax overhaul that reduced corporate and personal income taxes.

American Eagle Outfitters in the Rock Hill Galleria had customers come from as far as Gastonia, said associate manager Kristen Zanghi. She said the tax holiday was drawing plenty of back-to-school shoppers, but it might have brought in even more business were it not for the opening of Charlotte Premium Outlets in Steele Creek. The outlet mall, which opened Thursday, is Charlotte’s first new mall in almost a decade.

Winthrop University marketing professor Jane Thomas told The (Rock Hill) Herald last week that the outlet mall’s popular back-to-school brands would be a big attraction, and its promotional prices would be equal to – if not better than – what was available at South Carolina stores.

The J.C. Penney and Belk stores in Rock Hill said they didn’t feel the outlet mall hurt their business.

Davin Roy, store manager at Belk in the Rock Hill Galleria, said traffic was up substantially from the same weekend last year, and he attributes it to the lack of a North Carolina tax holiday.

Kathy Hogue, store supervisor at J.C. Penney in Rock Hill said Saturday “was awesome, well over last year.” Jeans and school uniforms were popular items, she said.