Statewide tax-free event targets back-to-school shoppers.

Jenny Railsback helps her son Michael try on a shoe Monday at Randy’s Shoes as her daughter Brittany (right) and employee Lindsay Lease (left) watch. CNJ staff photo: Andrew Chavez

By Tonya Garner: CNJ Staff Writer

The rest of the state is finally catching up to Clovis when it comes to back-to-school shopping.

New Mexico lawmakers passed a bill earlier this year making the first weekend in August a tax-free holiday, starting at 12:01 a.m. Friday through Sunday.

Nontaxable items include clothing and footwear of $100 or less and school supplies. Computers priced at $1,000 or less will also be nontaxable.

North Plains Mall has been participating holding an annual back-to-school shopping event for six years to stay competitive with a similar weekend held in Texas, according to mall manager Cindy Banister. She said it’s one of the biggest shopping weekends of the year.

“Merchants have paid the tax themselves to keep shoppers from going to Texas. My merchants stand in line for this weekend to come,” said Banister, adding the tax-free weekend comprises 3 percent of merchants’ annual sales.
Statewide, shoppers can save about $6 on every $100 they spend. Participation is the tax-free holiday is voluntary in New Mexico.

Sen. Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, sponsored the bill.
“Slashing prices isn’t exclusively for stores any longer, now the state of New Mexico is doing it,” Ingle said in a press release. “It’s like buying everything on sale when we do not have to pay gross receipts tax. Right off the bat, shoppers will save at least 6 percent, the cost of the tax, on each item.”
Specialty stores such as Payless ShoeSource will also be taking part in the tax-free holiday.

“We have always done it when the mall does,” store manager Liz Ortiz said. “We see approximately 30 percent more revenue.”

Ortiz said her employees look forward to this weekend.
“It’s a lot of fun.” she said. “We are super busy, so the time flies by.”
Roger Williams, owner of Williams General Store in Muleshoe, said the store has participated in the annual event since it began six years ago. He said his sales have fluctuated depending on when school actually starts.

Clovis Wal-Mart will be participating for the first time.

According to store manager Frank Bean, extra staff and department managers will be on hand all three days of the sale.

“Judging from Texas stores in the past,” Bean said. “It should be a good sale. We are excited.”