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Knoxville businesses hope tax-free weekend boosts economy, attracts new customers

Downtown Knoxville businesses say this extra bit of cash comes at a good time as they continue recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The tax-free weekend kicked off Friday! It's a great time to shop for clothing, school supplies and other necessities since they won't be taxed. This year, people's grocery bills will also be smaller.

Clothing and school supplies under $100 will not be taxed. Computers, laptops and tablets below $1,500 also qualify for the tax exemption this year. Food and ingredients are also tax-free, whether they're from a grocery store or a restaurant.

Since more businesses get to participate in this year's tax-free weekend, Downtown Coordinator Rick Emmett said it should have some economic impact on Knoxville.

"Our businesses have suffered through COVID and we're just now trying to come back, and so I'm sure the state of Tennessee is trying to make this effort help all our businesses,” Emmett said. "Knoxville is the economic hub of the region and we bring in folks from all the surrounding counties. We have so much more shopping and opportunities for folks to find good deals.”

Emmett said a tax-free holiday like this one will bring in lots of extra money by attracting new customers to businesses. It can also bring new people to the downtown area, and if they're impressed they may return later to continue growing the economy.

He said lawmakers approved the new additions to this tax holiday weekend as a way to support the state's economy amid the pandemic.

"I think it'll be really nice for the downtown area to get a little business and more people and more volume into town," said Maddie Wright, an employee of Nothing Too Fancy. "It'll be kind of nice to have a little bit taken off your bill at the end of the day."

Newly included restaurants are equally as happy. Jameson Dowling with the Downtown Brewery said he thinks it's a good opportunity for the hospitality industry to get back on its feet.

"Getting busier and busier and we're encouraged by the things we've been seeing. Hopefully, tax-free weekend helps with that as well," he said.

RELATED: Tennessee tax-free weekend for back to school starts Friday!

One thing to remember though — food is tax-free but alcoholic beverages didn't make the tax-free list this year.

Other things not on the tax-free list this year include flash drives and printer ink. Even though clothing items will be tax-free, accessories like jewelry, purses and sports equipment will still be taxed.

RELATED: You don't have to pay sales tax on food this week! Here's what's included.

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