Shoppers across Texas are taking advantage of the state’s tax-free holiday weekend and steep retailer discounts to purchase clothing, school supplies and other needs ahead of the school year. The tax holiday, now in its 20th year, has historically been held in mid August ahead of the start of the new school year.

Despite the focus on shoppers, area businesses said the tax holiday is also one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year, second only to Black Friday itself.

“Sales this weekend are usually about three times as busy as the busiest of our weekends,” J. C. Penney Store Manager Terry Anderson said. “It is only behind Black Friday.”

For this year’s holiday weekend, Anderson said the retailer is offering 25 percent off sales in addition to the waived taxes, 10 percent-off coupons, and $10 children’s haircuts. The majority of the shoppers are families preparing for school, but Anderson said a wide variety of people come out seeking deals.

“A lot of our mature customers come in to take advantage of that 10 percent off,” he said.

The tax holiday applies to a wide variety of items, but for J.C. Penney it mainly applies to clothing items that are $100 or less. When it comes to weekend purchases, there are exceptions to the holiday. Accessories like jewelry are not tax exempt, however, belts are.

One item that most people forget is on sale are diapers, Anderson said.

“It is basically anything you wear on your body with exceptions,” he said.

For the weekend, Anderson said the store was operating almost as it would on Black Friday. While it is not open 24 hours, the store is offering extended hours, which started on Friday. The department store also brought in about 25 percent more sales associates for the holiday over a typical weekend and built temporary stations to help ring up customers.

Among those shopping Saturday morning was Laura Brown, who decided to do her back-to-school shopping before the crowds got to the store Saturday morning.

“All together, I think we saved about $100 here alone,” she said.

While her first purchase was just for jeans, she said she planned to do additional shopping in Allen and Frisco for other deals.

For a list of what is and is not exempt, the state comptroller’s list of items can be seen here.

Michael Hutchins is a reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at