At a time when many parents are shopping for back-to-school clothes and working professionals are updating their wardrobes -- and seeking money-saving bargains as well -- State Sen. Bob Duff (D-Norwalk) Friday touted the upcoming Sales Tax-Free Week in Connecticut at the Helen Ainson store with Darien Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Carol Wilder-Tamme.

Duff and Wilder-Tamme were at the upscale women's shop to bring attention to Connecticut's annual sales tax-free week, which begins this Sunday, Aug. 21, and concludes Saturday, Aug. 27.

During the week, shoppers do not pay the 6.35-percent state sales tax on clothing and footwear costing less than $300 per item. The one-week exclusion applies to sales made by Connecticut retailers, and to sales made by out-of-state retailers that are required to collect Connecticut use tax on sales to Connecticut customers.

At one point this year, Connecticut's tax-free week was going to be cancelled in order to help balance the state budget deficit, but the legislature decided to maintain it. It was estimated that cancelling the sales tax holiday would have brought in an additional $4.2 million in tax revenue, meaning state residents will save that much in the coming week.

"Our economy is obviously not yet back to full strength, either in Connecticut, across the nation or around the globe," Duff said. "I know sales-tax free week has become something of a tradition here in Connecticut, but giving people a break in this economy is even more important. And it's not only a boon for consumers, it's good for local businesses, too. That's one of the reasons why I have fought for the past several years to retain these tax-free weeks."

Wilder-Tamme discussed the typical drop in sales during the late summer months.

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"August in Darien is a difficult month for all businesses, so particularly in a sluggish economy `tax-free week' is a boon to businesses selling clothing and/or shoes," Wilder-Tamme said. "I have received a number of phone calls at the Chamber from residents who want to know the dates for tax-free week this year, because most consumers appreciate help stretching their dollars for back-to-school purchases.

"In Darien, even businesses dealing in products and services not included in tax free week can benefit from the Chamber tax-free week ad page, which provides a color ad for a greatly reduced price and premier placement with all the ads being grouped together on one or two pages under the Chamber banner headline," Wilder-Tamme added. "I hope area shoppers will support their hometown businesses and take advantage of this dollar-saving opportunity."