Tax-free weekend comes to a close

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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - As summer vacation comes to a close kids and parents are gearing up for the new school year. For some, it can be an expensive time of year. To help cut some of the costs of back to school shopping, Florida had a tax-free weekend.

"The hottest categories have been the school uniforms," said Todd Collins, general manager of J.C. Penney in Pier Park. "We still have a good, a real good selection of uniforms, but jeans have been a big seller. All the back to school uniforms is really what's been driving our business."

According to the National Retail Foundation families of elementary, middle and high school students will spend an average of around $673 per kid on back to school essentials.

The tax-free weekend is meant to help with some of those costs. Families came to stores like J.C. Penney to take advantage of the deals.

"We came just for school uniforms mostly looking forward to kindergarten and pre-K for the first year," said Brittney, a back to school shopper. "Just looking for a great school year."

This year the tax-free shopping was shortened to only three days compared to 10 days last year. Another change this year: computers and other electronics are not on the tax-free list. Only school supply items less than $15 get tax-free status this year, in addition to clothing less than $60. That's down from last year's clothing limit of $100.

Even with the changes this year, some store managers said they've been busy as ever.

"This weekend has been phenomenal so far, sales and our traffic has been up, above our expectation above our plan," said Collins.

Many stores offered other discounts to attract shoppers during the tax holiday. Stores also extended their hours to allow more people to take advantage of the deals. J.C. Penney stayed open an extra three hours past its normal Sunday closing time.