Despite Economic Climate, Newton Malls Prep for Tax-Free Weekend

Many Newton retailers are ready for the crowds this weekend, but will they come?

In years past, a tax-free weekend in Massachusetts meant mobs of people and packed parking lots filled with shoppers ready to save money.

But with the current economic climate, will crowds this year fill the stores to save their 6.25 percent?

"No one is really sure how this weekend will play out," said David Fleming, the corporate marketing director for WS Development, owners of the Chestnut Hill Shopping Center. "We expect it to be a good one, but we're not sure with the recent economic news."

Fleming explained that stores with higher-end merchandise are likely to see more customers, such as the upscale houseware store Portobello Road. Just next door at , the boutique eyewear store will be offering tax-free deals on some unique items, although many of the glasses are needed for medical purposes and are tax-free anyway.

An Apple Store located at one of WS Development's properties in Hingham will be extending its hours, Fleming explained, because customers are likely to seek larger-ticket items like electronics. 

A few doors down at , co-owner Hadley Douglas said that the store will "miss the August boost", as liquor is now tax-free again in Massachusetts after a repeal of the tax was passed last year. The crowds are not likely to swarm the liquor stores this year, but Douglas still extended the offer for customers to stop in for a tasting as they move along the other retail outlets. 

As for the Simon Malls located next door and across the street -- The Mall at Chestnut Hill and The Atrium Mall -- officials are optimistic that this tax free weekend will be just as successful as those in years past. 

"Historically, we've absolutely seen an increase in traffic and expect the same this year," said Deborah Konig, area marketing director for Simon's Mall at Chestnut Hill and Atrium Mall. "It's a win-win situation for both our retailers and shoppers. We expect a busy weekend all around."

Although both malls are expecting a lot of foot traffic, Konig agreed in that the big-ticket stores such as the Apple Store in the Mall at Chestnut Hill are likely to see more crowds.  

Konig said the Atrium Mall will be holding a special back-to-school event this weekend called "Back At It", which includes styling demonstrations, beauty tips and giveaways. 

Both the Atrium and Mall at Chestnut Hill will have extended hours, Konig said, and will be open Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.


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