A recent survey by the shopping website PriceGrabber.com found that back-to-school shopping is truly big business, with 63 percent of consumers planning to spend up to $500 on back-to-school shopping this year. The same survey showed that a lot of the shopping this year will be happening online, with nearly 80 percent of people saying they plan to do some "virtual shopping" for back-to-school items. Don't forget, if you shop online or by phone, before placing an order be sure to check free websites like PromotionalCodes.com and RetailMeNot.com for promotional codes, coupons and other discount offers from various retailers and manufacturers.
Here are some of the back-to-school bargains:
School or office supplies
Most office supply stores and general merchandise retailers are offering attractive discounts on everyday supplies like paper, pencils, backpacks and notebooks, often using them as "loss leaders" just to get you in the store. Staples came out early and strong this summer in courting back-to-school shoppers, virtually giving away items like pencils, note pads and notebook dividers through a series of weekly "1 cent sales" (quantities are limited and some restrictions apply). For $10 you can also buy a Staples Back to School Savings Pass that gets you 15 percent off a wide range of supplies through Sept. 15, 2012 — definitely worth considering if you shopping for large family or want to outfit your home office or business with the essentials. Other retailers like Toys R Us offer free shipping on school items, with some restrictions, if you order online.
Adult clothing as well as children's is on sale this time of year. In fact, you'd be hard-pressed to find a clothing retailer that is not offering some type of back-to-school sale. Footwear can be a particularly good bargain, with, for example, Famous Footwear offering a special where you get 50 percent off a second pair of footwear when you buy one pair. One word of caution, though, from seasonal shopping guru Mark Di Vincenzo, author of Buy Ketchup in May and Fly at Noon: If you're in the market for a new pair of jeans, you may actually find a better deal if you wait until October to buy. That's when retailers mark down their remaining inventories of jeans that they stocked up on for the back-to-school rush.
Computers and electronics
In my day, the big thrill was getting a new slide rule, but now it's all about getting the latest tech gadgets and computer gear. Major chains like Best Buy are offering up some of their most competitive prices of the year on selected electronics and computer hardware. Walmart has introduced its "Back to School Laptop Bundle" sale, where for as little as $298 (if you shop online) you get a choice of a laptop, case, flash drive, printer and Windows 8 Pro Upgrade option. It's sort of a Chinese-menu approach to buying a laptop with all the accoutrements, and it really can result in a significant savings compared with shopping à la carte.
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