Missouri’s annual Back to School Sales Tax Holiday begins at midnight on Thursday with the state’s retailers hoping for a big weekend at the cash registers. Missouri Retailers Association President David Overfelt says that while consumers benefit from this weekend, it’s crucial to the state’s retail industry.

“It’s the number one thing we need to do,” said Overfelt in an interview with the Missourinet. “Get the consumers into the brick and mortar stores.”

Overfelt says retail stores not only benefit from increased sales this weekend, but by luring customers back to stores.

“It gets consumers out in the stores,” said Overfelt. “They see that it’s a pleasant shopping experience, locally, and they’ll come back. They have so many other choices today. They can go to outlet malls, they can buy online – sales tax free, shipping free. The consumers do not have to buy locally and we think that the holiday gets people in the store to realize how much better it is to see the merchandise, to try it on.”

Some cities and counties have eliminated their local sales taxes, as well, this weekend. But others see an opportunity to rake in dollars and have opted out.

“City governments, city coffers – sales taxes are down, their coffers are down – they’re looking at any way they can to boost that,” said Overfelt. “They know on a holiday weekend there’ll be a spike in sales that should help them out.”

Missouri’s 4.225 percent state sales tax is lifted on qualifying items whether local taxes are applied or not. Items exempt from the state sales tax include back-to-school supplies, computers, computer supplies, and many items of clothing.

Download/Listen: Steve Walsh report (:60 MP3)