Where To Shop for Back To School

The Quick Guide of Where To Shop For Which Back-To-School Items

mother and daughter shop online together.
While you can get all of your back to school shopping done from one website like Amazon, you will get better deals by visiting several different stores. Ariel Skelley via Getty Images

 If you care about your budget, then back-to-school shopping is all about getting what your children need for school at the best price possible. Once you know when the best time to shop is, it is only a matter of knowing which kinds of stores you need to visit.

What To Get At Box Stores  

Stores like Wal-mart and Target have a large selection of school supplies at good prices during the back-to-school shopping season.

If you have to buy everything in one trip, these stores will have you covered at a reasonable price. The better strategy is to watch different stores for different prices over the months leading up to and shortly after school begins. Many box stores offer price matching, where they will match a competitor's price for an identical brand and size of an item.  

To get the prices, watch weekly circular flyers and check online price comparison sites like Nextag, thekrazykouponlady, and passionforsavings.com to see which stores have the best prices on items that you need for back to school.

What To Get From Amazon.com

The mass online retailer has simplified one site online shopping. If you dread going to stores, you can shop from home for all of your back to school needs at the Amazon website. If you have Amazon Prime you can shop without paying for shipping.

The online retailer offers specials and sales that change on a daily or weekly basis, making it worthwhile to check the website often for the best deals.

Amazon will offer some items at a lower price when it is not back-to-school time, but then place other items on sale to bring in back-to-school shoppers.

Amazon also has a passive fundraiser program - Amazon Smile! - where a percent of your purchase total can go to benefit a charity or non-profit of your choice.

Your school booster clubs or PTA/PTO can sign up, allowing all parents who shop the online retailer to support their schools at the same time.

Amazon carries a variety of school uniform brands and trendy back-to-school clothes. I personally watched uniforms drop to the lowest price at the end of the school year. The price on these same items was raised when back-to-school shopping time began, about late July.

What To Get From Thrift and Consignment Stores

Second-hand shops can be good choices for back-to-school clothes and backpacks. Gently used items that elementary school age children have simply outgrown can be found at great prices in these shops. Older children and teens can find timeless basics and fashions from the last few seasons that still have staying power as well. This can often be a great option to get top quality brands at low prices.  

If your child's school requires uniforms, try checking the thrift stores located in the school neighborhood. You can also check with school staff and other parents to find out which second-hand stores tend to stock school uniforms.

What To Get At Dollar Stores

Dollar Stores will carry consumable school supplies and you can find fun school knick-knacks for great savings.

These stores often have discount or generic supplies as part of their regular fall stock. These stores  sometimes get brand name quality supplies.  

Know before you shop which items on your shopping last are ones where quality counts, and which items quality doesn't matter. Then just swing in for a quick look to see what dollar stores are carrying before heading off to the other stores.

What To Get At Office Supply Stores 

Stores like Office Depot and Staples offer great loss leader sales. Sometimes these stores have the best price on electronic items like calculators, tablets, and laptops. Generally, the basic supplies that are not loss leaders will have lukewarm pricing, so be sure to compare prices before you purchase.

What To Find At Your Own House  

Really, this is the first place you should look once you know what you need to get for back-to-school shopping. Did you stock up on loss leaders last school year and still have enough for this year? Don't purchase duplicates.  Did you buy the backpack with a lifetime guarantee and it still fits your child? No need to buy a new one.  

One Last Tip:

Be sure to keep your receipts for back-to-school shopping.With so many retailers offering great deals at different times, you may find a better deal on an item once you have purchased it elsewhere. If you have the receipt, you may be able to return the higher-priced item.

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