From midnight Friday to midnight Sunday, shoppers won't pay taxes on items such as clothing, school supplies, books and computers.
"It's great for consumers. It's great for teachers …," said Nancy King Dennis, spokeswoman for the Alabama Retail Association. "It's just a win-win situation all the way around."
Statewide, 254 cities and counties will take part in the holiday — nine more than last year, according to the association. Locally, all cities and counties in The Star's coverage are participating except for Oxford, where shoppers will pay 1 cent on the dollar. That's the city's tax for schools.
The tax breaks are good for teachers, who saw their $400 state appropriation for school supplies cut this year because of the economy.
"I've looked at computers and laptops — just all kinds of things," said Natasha Scott, a 12th-grade English teacher at Ohatchee High. She said she'll be in the lines early at Wal-Mart and Best Buy and plans to spend about $2,000 on computers, video cameras and school supplies for her students.
Tax-free sales means local cash-strapped schools won't receive their usual revenue from the purchases. Calhoun County in January enacted a 1-cent sales tax initiative to support the five local school systems; Oxford, on top of that, passed its own 1-cent initiative.
But Jacksonville Superintendent Eric Mackey said the holiday promotes shopping, which promotes a healthy merchant and that will end up bolstering the economy and the school system.
"And that's what we want: a strong market," he said.
Plus, he said, it helps out the family which, on average, spends up to $500 on school supplies.
"It's just a great idea," he said.
Stores are ready and grateful. For many, including Martin's Family Clothing in Anniston, it's one of the busiest days of the year.
"We're stocking up our shelves," said Valerie Hall, a supervisor for the store.
Gov Bob Riley said Tuesday in Huntsville the weekend is an opportunity for families to save money and for retailers to get a shot in the arm. He said the state's sales tax collections for August have increased every year since the holiday began in 2006 because once people start shopping for tax-free goods, they end up buying additional items that are taxed.
Across the country, 16 states hold sales tax holidays. Mississippi last weekend held its first tax-free holiday.
A detailed listing of what is and isn't taxed this weekend can be found on the Alabama Retail Association's Web site at www.alabamaretail.org The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Sales tax holiday items
• Clothing $100 or less.
• School supplies $50 or less.
• Books $30 or less. Textbooks $50 or less.
• Computers and certain computer equipment and supplies $750 or less.
For more information go to www.alabamaretail.org
Source: Alabama Retail Association