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Demopolis has successful tax-free weekend

DEMOPOLIS – The clothes have been purchased, the notebooks and binders are being put to use and the state of Alabama’s inaugural Sales Tax Holiday is a memory. That memory, however, proved to be a lucrative one for both the city of Demopolis and the state.

“I think it was a pretty good weekend,” said Kelley Smith, president of the Demopolis Area Chamber of Commerce.

“This was the first year and I think it can grow from here.”

Smith said that since the sales-tax free weekend, several of the community’s merchants have reported a lot more traffic into their stores than usual.

In a survey of 186 retailers across the state, 64 percent listed an increase in sales over this time last year. The Associated Press also reported that 24 percent of the retailers surveyed said that their sales were the same or lower than Aug. 4, 5 and 6 of 2005.

“I think people after seeing what happened this year, seeing what all items are going to be exempted,” said Smith, “will save their shopping for the Sales Tax weekend and will plan a little better and will know what to expect.”

In a press release issued by the Alabama Retail Association, the complete retail sales and sales tax figures won’t be released until late September.

“As we predicted, Alabama’s first-ever sales tax holiday was a success for the consumer, for the teachers, for the retailers and for the economy,” said Rick Brown, president of the state’s ARA, in a release. “Almost three-quarters of those

who responded either saw an increase in sales from the previous year or did business as usual during the sales tax holiday.”

The state waived it’s 3-percent sales tax and then Marengo County waived it’s 2-percent sales tax and lastly, Demopolis dropped it’s 3-percent sales tax giving shoppers the benefit of saving 9-percent on tax-exempted purchases.

“I cannot imagine that we would not have it next year,” said Gov. Bob Riley during a press conference held at Hoover’s Riverchase Galleria on Thursday. “We have proven this can be beneficial to everyone in this state.”

In the interim until next year’s tax-free weekend, Smith and the Chamber are thinking of ways to make it be larger for the city of Demopolis and Marengo County.

“I think next year we’ll work with the merchants more to publicize the weekend,” said Smith. “We are going to publicize this and get the word out about what exact items are going to be exempt.”

According to a press release issued by Riley’s press office, “Riley called the sales tax holiday a success even though state sales taxes are collected once a month in areas and the impact on the state’s budget won’t be known for at least a month.”

“It will be a bigger success because the people know they can buy the items that are exempt here in Demopolis,” said Smith. “We plan to let people know early enough so they can make their plans accordingly.”