Ways to shop safe during South Carolina’s tax-free weekend

Shoppers can save money during SC tax-free weekend

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Back to school shoppers spent $22 million during South Carolina’s tax-free weekend last year. What they are looking for in 2020, is a lot different.

Friday, Channel 9 found stores where hand sanitizer and disinfectant spray were placed with back to school supplies. While those items are not tax-free this weekend, they are certainly important for many parents who are opting for in-person school.

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Some families doing virtual school aren’t spending money on clothes, shoes or book bags like they have in the past -- instead, computers and printers are selling for virtual learning as parents create classrooms in their homes.

While the state is urging parents to shop online to limit crowds in stores, the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs has a few tips to keep shoppers safe:

Be on-guard as you shop online – Because of coronavirus, more people may prefer shopping online. Make sure your software is up-to-date and never use the same password for all of your accounts. Click here for more ways to stay safe while you’re browsing and buying online.

Check mask ordinances, guidelines and store offerings before heading out – If you choose to shop in-store, double check for mask ordinances in the city/county the store is in so you can be prepared. Many stores offer delivery or curbside pick-up to simplify your shopping trip but make sure to read the terms and conditions to find out if there are any extra fees for these services.

Make a list and stick to it – Check out the South Carolina Department of Revenue’s website for a general list of items that are tax exempt as well as ones that are not. Some back-to-school items that are usually exempt include computers, earbuds, flash drives, art supplies, musical instruments and clothing. Click here to see more items.

Decide on your payment method – When shopping in a store, pay with cash if you have trouble sticking to a budget. If you prefer shopping online, a credit card offers more consumer fraud protections than a debit card.

Know the return policy – Review return and exchange policies online so you know before you go. If you don’t see the information posted in the store, ask about it, especially if you’re purchasing items that sometimes have a restocking fee, like computers.

Review financial statements – Security breaches often happen during heavily trafficked shopping times. Read your financial statements during the tax-free weekend and beyond, making sure there are no errors or fraudulent charges. If there are, dispute them immediately.

For more tips, or to get assistance if you find suspicious charges or errors on your accounts, go to consumer.sc.gov or call SCDCA at 800-922-1594.

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