OKLAHOMA CITY — Is it more hype, than help? As shoppers hit the store for tax-free weekend, how good a deal are we actually getting? Researchers say sales tax holidays don't actually go over as advertised, although shoppers say traffic is up every store they go to."We had a few people lined up even before we opened," Ty McCarthy, who works at Tilly's said. "It's just been a steady stream of people through the day." "It's helpful at this back to school time, that you get a little bit of deals on the things you have to buy," mother Austin Hodges said.But economists say tax holidays do little to actually help our economy."They're pitched to the public as a sort of win, win, win for retailers, for shoppers and for states. However, more often than not they don't really turn out to be as good as they're sold," Christopher Koopman said. Koopman is the head program manager at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.He says traffic at stores may go up this weekend, but those numbers don't tell the whole story."A lot of these purchases are not new or additional purchases but they're purchases many of these consumers would have been making anyway. So what they end up doing is they don't stimulate the economy but they end up incentivising shoppers to either delay or rush purchases that they would already be making," he said.Koopman says these purchases make up 90-percent of the sales during tax holidays.Researcher say tax-free weekends may also be harmful. They say the holiday gives politicians a chance to pick their favorite industries to feature as tax-free, at the expense of others.Koopman also says politicians operate under the guise of "tax relief" or "tax reform" when they are neither."Essentially what they do is they're gimmicks to give the appearance of tax reform without ever actually engaging in any substantive tax reform," he said.Koopman points to a study done over Tennessee's tax-free weekend. He said shoppers only saved an average of $2.50.But shopper says they are happy to save where they can.Tax-free weekend: what's tax-free?"You save nine or ten bucks on a purchase, so that's definitely worth it," McCarthy said.Melissa Garcia of consumerqueen.com says you can save during the weekend, if you know how to shop."It's great because it's not just tax free but all the stores are having sales, on top of that they've got coupons," Garcia said. "So it's absolutely a great weekend to shop."
She has tips and tricks on her website, to help you save.