I was out shopping yesterday and the lines at Kohl’s were longer than at Christmas.  Every register was open and there were 20+ people in line at both banks of registers, all waiting with cart loads of purchases. 

What was causing this retail frenzy?  The annual back-to-school Tax Free Holiday.  For two days each year, the state waives sales tax on clothing and school supplies.  Judging by people’s behavior, you would think they were giving things away free.

In reality, it is a 7% discount.

If they had advertised it as “Sale: 7% off”, I doubt anyone would have showed up, let alone gone out of their way or waited 40 minutes in line to make purchases.  But somehow, “tax free” sounds like a great deal, and since it is only for two days a year, the urgency increases.

Think about the marketing elements of Tax Free Weekend the next time you need to label something.  Just a few little words can make a big difference in what motivates behavior.  

— beth triplett

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