Friday, June 03, 2005

Getting ready for the Hurricane Season!

Remember last years Hurricanes?
Twelve days of sales-tax free hurricane supplies is under way. Businesses have altered their computers - starting today - to waive sales tax on many hurricane supplies and welcome those customers who want to save some cash on certain supplies.
"While supplies of all things hurricane-related have been popular since last year's nasty storm season, 12 days of no sales tax on related items could be a bigger boost to local sales," said Karen Cobb, spokeswoman for Lowe's Home Improvement.
Hurricane related items will be covered during the tax holiday, which runs through June 12.
Cobb said the memory of last year's hurricanes is so fresh that generators have already been selling well.
"But we still feel that the awareness of being properly prepared for the season, coupled with the tax-free holiday, will help us to achieve strong and consistent sales all year long," Cobb said.
Keith Phillips, assistant store manager at Lowe's in East Manatee, said his store has already sold several generators.
"We have been busy and generator sales are leading the pack," he said.
The sales tax holiday has Lowe's sponsoring how-to-clinics every day at 11 a.m. on four subjects: generator safety, installing hurricane shutters, boarding up windows and chain saw safety.
"It's one thing to purchase these items with no sales tax, but it's another to go out and use them properly," Cobb said.
When the clocks struck midnight, Florida stores implemented new programming for their computers and registers to knock off the sales tax on the items specified by Gov. Jeb Bush and the state Legislature.
Don Harrison, spokesman for Home Depot, said the company's software and technology department handled the price adjustments from the company's headquarters in Atlanta.
"It's an easy adjustment that we were ready for," Harrison said. "Price changes are automatically fixed when needed for all of our stores."
Also Tuesday, the chain announced plans to reduce prices on affected items by 7.5 percent, which is the maximum sales tax that can be charged by Florida counties. Manatee County's sales tax is 6.5 percent, meaning the additional cut amounts to a 14 percent savings. In Sarasota County, where sales tax is 7 percent, the cuts total 14.5 percent.
Brian Piech, store manager at Crowder Bros. Ace Hardware on Manatee Avenue West, said his store spent extra time identifying and flagging nontaxable items Thursday night.
"We are prepared with additional merchandise," Piech said. "The computers are ready and it will be interesting to see what happens in terms of sales in the coming days."

Grocers react-
"We are fully stocked to for this tax holiday and hope people take advantage of it," said Sweetbay and Kash n' Karry spokeswoman Nicole LeBeau.
Dick Gulash, store manager at Albertsons on Manatee Avenue West, said his store spent several hours checking the prices of related items Thursday.
"It's like putting a discount in the system or changing advertisements on certain items," Gulash said.

Grocer trying to rebound from bankruptcy gets ready for the season.
Terry Derreberry, neighborhood marketing manager for Winn-Dixie Stores, said customers are more aware of what you need to prepare for a storm.
"We have learned you need to prepare for the worst, but hope for the best," Derreberry said. "Both Winn-Dixie and our customers have taken that motto to heart."