Tax break was 'great'

Published 6:40 am Sunday, January 20, 2002

By By Robbie Byrd
News Editor
With the sales tax holiday now over, businesses are getting a chance to review their numbers. And what they see looks to be about in sync with last year.
The sales tax holiday was well accepted by most business owners, but they blame the slow season on recent economic woes and lowered consumer confidence.
Rick Zahradka, store manager for Fred's, said that he has seen better months, but last December sales were up slightly over last year. He believes that the tax holiday helped bring in more business than he would have seen, but blames the stagnant numbers on local industrial problems.
"I thought it was a great idea," Zahradka said. "With all the problems the people are facing here, it was great that the city did something to help the less fortunate. A lot of places wouldn't have done that."
Lisa Julian, store manager from Rite Aid, said that there was a surge of customers before the tax holiday ended.
"We had a lot of people come in right towards the end," Julian said. "They wanted to get what they needed while the break was (still in effect)."
However, Julian's computer system allowed for an extended holiday.'
"It took a couple of days for our computers to get back in order," Julian said. "We had to call the corporate headquarters to get the change made, and it took them a couple of days to get it back."
Zahradka said they had no problems with their systems, but a few customers questioned what happened to the tax break.
"I don't think most people noticed while it was going on, but after it ended we had a few people ask us what happened," Zahradka said.
Julian and Zahradka agree that the break was one of a kind.
Mark Booth, manager of B.C. Moores, said that while the break was a good idea, there is still not sufficient evidence to say it spiked holiday sales.
"It's hard to tell and really judge just how the tax has affected us," Booth said. "I think it's a great effort on (the city's) part, but it's hard to tell with our current economy just how (the tax break) helped."
"I thought it was really nice," Julian said. "This is the first time I've ever seen it happen anywhere."
The city is still working on it's fiscal information for the year, but as Mayor Howard Shell said in an interview last month, the city will have to take things "one day at a time."

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