The state's tax-free weekend could provide some economic relief for back-to-school shoppers.
The state will hold its sales tax holiday this weekend to allow shoppers the opportunity to purchase certain electronic devices, school supplies, school art supplies, school instructional materials and clothing free of state and local sales or use tax, according to the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration.
The tax free period begins at 12:01 a.m. Saturday and ends at 11:59 p.m. Sunday.
All retailers are required to participate and may not charge tax on items legally tax-exempt during the sales tax holiday.
Sales tax is a combined 9.50% or more in the larger cities in Northwest Arkansas and Fort Smith in the River Valley. This is the total of state, county and city sales tax rates.
Oklahoma and Missouri also are holding tax-free weekends this weekend.
Saving almost 10% can come in handy. Over the 12 months ending in June, the Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers increased 9.1%. The increase was the largest 12-month increase since the 12-month period ending November 1981, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
"Everything is higher in price," said Carolyn Myrick, a Bentonville schoolteacher. "Inflation is crazy."
Clothing less than $100 per item is exempt during the weekend, as well as clothing accessories less than $50 per item. Clothing accessories include handbags, cosmetics, jewelry and umbrellas. Most school supplies, including book bags, binders, paper, crayons, pencils and rulers, are also exempt, according to the Arkansas House of Representatives website.
Myrick, who teaches English as a Second Language at Osage Creek Elementary School, already bought school supplies for her boys ages 8 and 13 and for her classroom. This weekend will be about the essentials such as clothes, she said.
She plans to go into her boys' closets beforehand to see what needs to be replaced and what might make it a little while longer.
"It's not an impulse buy with the boys," she said. "They grow out of their clothes."
In the 2021 regular session, legislators passed Act 944, which amended the sales tax holiday to include electronics. Examples include calculators, desktop computers, cellphones, e-readers, computer mouses, laptops, monitors, printers, keyboards and tablets.
It does not include video game systems or televisions.
Act 944 is estimated to save Arkansans $650,000 in taxes a year, according to the House website.
Online purchases for specified items will be tax-free as long as the transaction processes between 12:01 a.m. Saturday and 11:59 p.m. Sunday and the items are shipped to an Arkansas address, according to the website.
Alex Kirsch, assistant manager of Old Navy in Fayetteville, said tax-free weekends are always busy. Staff stayed late in the days leading up to the weekend to stock and clean, she said.
"With tax-free weekend, it's a lot of kids and families," she said.
Daisy Estrada, part-time sales manager at American Eagle Outfitters in Fort Smith's Central Mall, said the store started its back-to-school rush about a week ago.
Estrada has worked in retail since 2013, but this will be her first tax-free weekend at American Eagle.
"I expect it to be pretty busy," she said. "To me, tax-free weekend is busier than Black Friday."
For more on the Arkansas tax-free holiday, visit https://www.dfa.arkansas.gov/images/uploads/exciseTaxOffice/HolidayItemized.pdf