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Consumers crowd stores for tax break

Lines, expected revenues give merchants hope

Cost-conscious consumers flocked to stores across the state yesterday, lured by a two-day suspension of the state's sales tax. Merchants welcomed them, hoping for big crowds and big profits.

Nate Richards, manager of Best Buy in Attleboro, said 200 people had lined up to wait for his store to open at 8 a.m. yesterday. He predicted a "huge spike in revenue."

"It's like an early Christmas," Richards said. "For this store, at least, it's a very heavy increase." He said his store was a "sea of moving people."

Rick Wong, manager of Circuit City at the South Bay Center in Dorchester, said: "We have our own game plan. Just keep everyone in single file, help one customer at a time."

"Customers are happy, that's the bottom line," Wong said.

During the tax holiday, which lasts through business hours today, the state's sales tax will not apply on purchases of up to $2,500.

Tricia Murray, 40, of South Boston, stopped in Best Buy at the South Bay mall, but said she was also going to Circuit City and OfficeMax to compare prices on a computer, Palm Pilot, and MP3 player she wanted to purchase this weekend.

Murray is a tax holiday veteran. During last year's tax holiday, she bought a television.

"I was going to spend the money already, so why not go and buy it today?" she said.

This is the state's fourth annual tax holiday. State officials estimate that because of it, the state will lose between $30 million and $50 million in revenue.

Globe correspondent Aubrey Gibavic contributed to this report.