Tax-free spending awaits you

List of school supplies? Check. Your kids' shoe sizes? Check. A little something for you, too? Check.

Shoppers across the state are checking their back-to-school checklists in preparation for the tax-free weekend, beginning at 12:01 a.m. Friday and ending 11:59 p.m. Sunday.

Despite the state's budget woes, North Carolina will again hold the tax-free weekend, which has been on the first weekend in August since 2001.

Clothing, shoes and school supplies of $100 or less per item and sports and recreation equipment of $50 or less per item will be exempt from sales tax this weekend.

Computers of $3,500 or less and computer supplies that cost $250 or less will also be exempt.

Items such as jewelry, makeup and furniture are not covered by the exemption.

Cabarrus County retailers are expecting an influx of shoppers this weekend, particularly at Concord Mills mall.

The mall will have extended hours this weekend: 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon-7 p.m. Sunday.

"It's always a heavy weekend for us," said Holly Roberson, director of mall marketing at Concord Mills.

The mall won't be quite as busy as the Friday after Thanksgiving when the Christmas-shopping crowds descend , she said, but people looking for back-to-school supplies and clothes will be there.

Police will be out in full force this weekend in Concord's David district, which includes some of the city's major retail areas around Concord Mills Boulevard, said Concord Police Capt. Tim Templeton, district commander.

During last year's tax-free weekend, only three shoplifting incidents - a typical number for a normal weekend, said Templeton - were reported in the district, and there were no car break-ins.

But police aren't taking any chances this year, he said. All officers assigned to the district will be working this weekend. Templeton said police will be concentrating on retail parking lots, using unmarked patrol cars, as well as bike and foot patrols.

Templeton said shoppers can help prevent thefts by being cautious of the things they leave in their cars. Shoppers should always lock their cars, and purchases, electronics or other valuables should not be left in plain sight, he said.

"It's just an invitation for getting your window smashed," said Templeton.