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State tax collectors join retailers in celebrating Black Friday

Did you survive Black Friday? My mother and I ran to a nearby shopping center to pick up a few things, but no large-scale purchasing for us.

We apparently were in the minority.

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Kevin Sterneckert, vice president of retail research at Gartner Group, expected more than half of us to do some form of "show-rooming" on Black Friday.

That looked about right at the northwest Austin retail mecca we dropped in on yesterday.

Business hopes are particularly high this holiday season, with the U.S. economy finally starting to show signs of improvement.

The National Retail Federation, however, forecast a 4.1 percent increase in retail sales during the November-December holiday period this year, down from the 5.6 percent increase seen in 2011.

A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll found that two-thirds of shoppers plan to spend the same amount as last year or were unsure about spending plans, while 21 percent intend to spend less and 11 percent plan to spend more.

Retailers are hoping that the spending tendency prevails. By some estimates, stores can earn more than a third of their annual sales in the holiday season.

Don't forget about the taxes: Tax collectors join that call for increased consumer spending. Most items that are purchased during the holiday season are taxable, meaning that state and local treasuries also enjoy a percentage of the purchases.

The only states that don't benefit are the five without a state sales tax: Alaska, Montana, New Hampshire, Delaware and Oregon.

But tax officials of areas particularly hard hit by Superstorm Sandy are hoping that strong Black Friday sales will overcome any losses due to the storm.

And Cornell economics professor Robert H. Frank suggests an across-the-board national sales tax on top of any existing state and local sales taxes that could help boost the economy and also might slow down the early onset of Black Friday.

Frank's 6-6-6 plan would add a 6 percent national sales tax on all purchases made between 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day and 6 a.m. on the following Friday.

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