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Back-to-school shopping may conjure images of crayons and backpacks, but today’s retailers define the category far more broadly.
“The great thing about back-to-school shopping is that it includes categories that are applicable to all ages, and you don’t have to be going back to school to get these deals,” says Kimberly Palmer, a spokesperson with personal finance website NerdWallet.
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Markdowns on certain categories like electronics and clothing may be even greater than in recent years, because many retailers over-ordered earlier in 2022, says Brad Godwin, regional vice president of Shopkick, a shopping rewards app.
“They ordered thinking that there would still be a lot of discretionary income, but then inflation hit, and now they have too much inventory,” he says. “So, you’re going to see drastically reduced prices."
Deloitte analysts project that the back-to-school market could amount to $34.4 billion this year (up 24% from 2019). Even if you (or your kids) are not headed to a classroom this September, there are still plenty of ways to take advantage of the sales associated with the shopping push. Here’s a look at seven ways to make the most of them.
1. Take advantage of sales tax holidays
Back-to-school sales tax holidays
Connecticut (August 21-27)
Florida (September 3-9)
Illinois (August 5-14)
Maryland (August 14-20)
Massachusetts (August 13-14)
New Jersey (August 27-September 5)
Sources: Federation of Tax Administrators and state tax departments
Eliminating the sales tax on purchases is an easy way to make your budget go further. Multiple states hold sales tax holidays between July and September. While some have already passed, several tax holidays are still to come and many focus specifically on clothing and electronics.
The savings can add up. Florida, for example, which draws retirees because it doesn’t tax income, has an average combined state and local sales tax rate that tops 7 percent. It’s nearly 9 percent in Illinois. The national average is 6.57 percent. (See our map of sales tax rates in every state.)
2. Stock up your home office
Laptop prices during back-to-school shopping season tend to be among the lowest of the year, second only to Black Friday prices. You’ll find great deals on accessories for that computer as well, including headphones, mice, chargers, and carrying cases.
“I’d check Best Buy and Amazon as the top contenders in those categories, with new deals coming out every day until Labor Day” says Shannon Dwyer, deals and shopping expert at RetailMeNot. “As products get depleted, they’ll be putting up new items as well."
This is also a great time to find sales on other items for your home office from desks to printers, ink, and paper.