Get The Best Back-To-School Deals

Jose Luis Pelaez Inc

Timing.  That is the what getting the best back-to-school deals is really all about.  Once  you know what your child or teen needs for school, you need to make a plan to get it.  

The average family was predicted to spend $630.36 on school supplies in the fall of 2015, according the National Retail Federation.  The spending in 2016 was predicted to be even greater, with total back-to-school spending going from 68 billion in 2015 to 75.8 billion.

If you would like to spend a lot less than the average family rather than a lot more, you can do so by spreading out your back-to-school shopping to get the best prices on different items.

Purchase loss leader items before the beginning of the school year to get the best price. "Loss leader" is a retail term for an item that is sold at an extremely low price in order to get buyers into the store. The stores hope that once you are there, you will buy the rest of the items you need or want at the store. The other items are where the stores hope to make the best profit margin.  

Of course, you don't have to buy anything other than the loss leaders.  Back-To-School loss leaders typically include packs of loose-leaf paper, spiral notebooks, composition books, and packs of pencils or pens. The weeks just before school begins is often a great time to buy these items. Loss leader prices are often less than a dollar per each item, sometimes as low as a few cents.


When To Get Backpacks and Lunchboxes

Backpacks and lunchboxes usually have the best sales price shortly after the school year begins. These are items that are not used for loss leaders, yet stores know families need to purchase. Once the school year begins stores need to empty their shelves of these seasonal items to make way for fall and winter holiday goods.


I have personally found the best prices on three ring binders and zip-closing multi-pocket notebooks to be early in the back to school shopping season. Stores will place these on sale for back-to-school for 30 - 50% off when they first begin stocking shelves of school items. The selection of notebooks drops dramatically to almost nothing the rest of the year. Buy these items when there is a large selection available.

Backpacks and zip-closing multi-pocket notebooks are both items where quality counts. These items are used every day and take a lot of wear and tear use.  If these items give out part way through the school year, they will need to be replaced. Since the selection of backpacks and notebooks drops down so much in the off-season for school supplies, it makes sense to go for a quality item with a guarantee.  

Look for a guarantee of more than one year since these items take so much abuse. The longer guarantee shows that the company is confident their product will last. While your child or teen may not continue using the same backpack or zip-closing multi-pocket notebook for several school years, knowing the quality is good enough to last should ensure it lasts for the entire school year.

When To Get Back-To-School Clothes

Delay back-to-school clothes shopping for as long as reasonably possible.  Stores often count on back-to-school shoppers wanting to make a great first impression in the early weeks of school.  This desire combined with the fashion industry switching to fall and winter clothing at the same time school starts means that the newest, latest trends will just be arriving in the stores in time before the school year begins.  The clothing sale prices are lukewarm at best.  Rather than purchasing an entire new wardrobe for back-to-school buy just the items needed right away.  This way you can watch for the prices to drop as the roller coaster of Christmas sales approaches.  By October expect to see some clearance prices on clothing that just arrived in late August to the stores.  November brings along Black Friday and other Thanksgiving week sales.   

There are many places you can shop and search for back-to-school deals.  The thing is, if you do all of your back-to-school shopping at once, you will miss out on the best prices.  Different items go on sale at different times, so shopping at multiple stores over a few days will save you money, but not as much if you follow the timing tips listed above.

"Back-to-School and College Spending to Reach $75.8 Billion." National Retail Federation. NRF, 21 July 2016. Web. 22 Aug. 2016.

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