East Hills Shopping Center was brimming this weekend with families who hungrily hunted store aisles for the best in back-to-school bargains.
Sunday marked the finale to Missouri’s annual back-to-school sales tax holiday. This was the 16th season for the state’s program. The holiday allows customers to forgo paying Missouri’s sales tax on particular purchases, most notably those of school-related supplies, clothing and the like.
Payton Cook, an incoming Central High School freshman, was among those students joining with their parents for the shopping trips.
She counted new folders and books as among the major items on the list.
“I like looking for new shoes,” she said. “And new clothes....Because I overgrow everything.”
News-Press NOW also contacted several mall businesses Sunday afternoon to gauge the impact from back-to-school activity.
Crystal Bowers, human resources supervisor at J.C. Penney, said the level of shopping at the store over the weekend turned out to be roughly normal for what was expected and comparable to 2018.
“We’re really busy,” she said. “We’ve had good traffic this weekend.”
Bowers said Penney’s was open extended hours for the weekend, just like its cohorts in the mall. She labeled back-to-school clothes, jeans, uniforms, and shoes as the top selling items.
“Most operate with a list (and) know what they’re looking for,” she said. “We try to beef up on the uniforms” and other lines of clothing, she added.
The store did field online requests for orders and special colors. Shoppers also showed a preference for choosing the option of picking up items they had ordered through the business.
“I think we’re getting a bit more from out of town,” said Bowers, explaining that customers had been counted from Chillicothe and Trenton, along with Nebraska, Kansas, and Iowa.
Nearby at Gordman’s, assistant manager Danielle Beadles said the picture was much the same.
“It’s been very busy,” she said. “It’s pretty much what we expected....We’re probably a little busier” than the same time last year, she continued.
Denim pants, shirts for young girls, active wear, and men’s jeans were among the go-to items of merchandise that shoppers snapped up on their journeys throughout the store. Beadles also said backpacks were popular.
Penny Kirkes, store manager at Dillard’s, said she and her crew observed more foot traffic Sunday than on Saturday. She said that signaled an increase in interest for back-to-school goods.
The children’s department in particular was perhaps the busiest part of the store this weekend, Kirkes said.