LIMA — Local retailers are gearing up for the second largest shopping season of the year this weekend.
Ohio is one of 12 states participating in tax-free weekend shopping as children gear up for their return to school.
“We see an influx of shoppers during this weekend,” Lima Mall marketing director Betsy Billingsley said.
Sen. Keith Faber said the weekend is an opportunity for families to keep more of their hard-earned money when shopping for back-to-school necessities.
“As a father of two school-age children, I know how expensive it can be to prepare students to return to the classroom for another school year,” Faber said. “That is why I am pleased to remind families that we renewed the Ohio Tax Holiday again this year to give parents much needed relief during the back-to-school shopping season.”
Friday through Sunday, parents will be able to buy any shoes or clothing priced below $75 and any school supplies and materials priced $20 or less tax free. Last year, Ohioans saved about $3.3 million on back-to-school items during the tax-free shopping, resulting in a 6 percent boost in statewide retail sales.
Meijer spokesman Joe Hirschmugl said it is a perfect chance for shoppers to take advantage of the store’s already low prices.
“We have had weekly sales since July and the tax free shopping is just icing on the cake,” Hirschmugl said. “We are prepared to help families get the best back-to-school deals that they can.”
Hirschmugl said that school shopping has changed through the years, with many people buying more in bulk than in years past, where people would purchase back-to-school items right before school started.
“This is a great advantage for savvy shoppers,” Hirschmugl said.
Billingsley said that cash registers have already been set up in all of the stores to figure the tax-free savings in. She said Lima Mall tenants would see about a 30 percent increase in average sales this weekend.
“Quite a few tenants already are having back-to-school sales,” Billingsley said.
Meijer workers will offer tips on how parents can get the most out of their shopping trip over the weekend. They also offered the following tips when buying a backpack, a popular item with children.
•The backpack shouldn’t overpower the child’s size to ensure they don’t carry more weight than they can handle.
•Make sure the backpack can comfortably hold the child’s supplies without being a tight fit.
•Look for backpacks with padded strips so posture is supported.
•Backpacks are prone to wear and tear. Opt for a quality-made product that will last throughout the year.
The savings will be welcomed as school fees continue to spike, according to the Huntington Bank Backpack Index. The index indicated that while middle school and elementary school supply costs are expected to decrease this year from 2015, school fees are expected to increase 6 percent in middle school and 2.9 percent in elementary.
Reach Lance Mihm at 567-242-0409 or at Twitter @LanceMihm.