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Tax-free weekend: Families to spend estimated $700 on back-to-school shopping

School supplies are seen in the aisles of the Walmart on Gandy Boulevard in Tampa. CHRIS URSO   |   Times
School supplies are seen in the aisles of the Walmart on Gandy Boulevard in Tampa. CHRIS URSO | Times
Published Aug. 2, 2019

Retail experts estimate families will spend more than ever this year on school supplies, according to survey results from the National Retail Federation.

In Florida, shoppers will head to stores in droves this weekend to take advantage of tax breaks on several back-to-school items. The so-called tax "holiday" started on Friday and runs until end-of-day Aug. 6. The tax-free weekend was extended to five days from three this year and now includes tax exemptions on computers and tablets up to $1,000.

"The longer the holiday the easier it is for retailers to manage foot traffic and inventory and the easier it is for consumers to avoid big crowds and space out their payments," said Florida Retail Federation spokesman James Miller.

RELATED STORY: Your guide to what's tax-free during the tax holiday this weekend.

After Black Friday, it's the busiest span of shopping days all year in Florida. Thousands of items are eligible, including computer accessories, clothing and shoes. Retailers expect a major boost from sales, according to the federation.

Families with children in kindergarten through 12th grade are expected to pay nearly $700 this year while back-to-school shopping and families with college students, nearly $1,000. Miller estimates Floridians will save nearly $40 million with the tax break, and up to $70 per family. The tax-free period was designated by state legislature and signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

According to the survey, shoppers with children still in grade or high school will spend the following:

$236.90 on clothing/accessories

$203.44 on electronics

$135.96 on shoes

$117.49 on supplies

College shoppers are estimated to spend the following:

$234.69 on electronics

$148.54 on clothing/accessories

$120.19 on dorm/apartment furnishings

$98.72 on food items

Although families are spending more during their trips than last year, fewer families are out buying school supplies this year, according to the survey results. Because families reported having have fewer children in school, the trade group estimates that Americans will spend a combined $26.2 billion on back-to-school shopping, down from $27.5 billion last year.

Similarly, fewer respondents to the survey said they would attending university this fall, leaving total spending down just under $1 billion at $54.5 billion.

Contact Sara DiNatale at sdinatale@tampabay.com. Follow @sara_dinatale.