Back-to School shopping has become its own season, second only to Christmas shopping in terms of family expenditures. As I walked to the back to school section at my neighborhood Target store as I do every year, I had to pause to think, why would anyone miss out on this experience and shop for back to school on-line? Like clockwork, I hit Target the second week of July to purchase my back-to-school supplies.
While shopping this last weekend, I was able to offer insight to a first-time school mom struggling to make sense of the list the school provided for the supplies needed for her child starting middle school. You don’t get that kind of personal help online. Two years ago, I was that parent struggling to figure out what my son needed, and someone was there to help me make sense of what was really needed vs. what was printed on the list the school provided.
But even the seasoned back-to-school shopper like myself needs help. I have been making several rookie mistakes back-to-school shopping for years.
Just today, I learned from moneyish.com that back to school shoppers who shop before August spend an average of $532 on their K-12 kids, while those parents who choose to shop in August spend just $458. I have been making this mistake for nine years by shopping in July for school supplies.
Take an inventory of what you currently have and keep that list with you or snap a pic of the items, so you have a reference while you shop.
Another mistake parents including myself make is avoiding the office supply stores. Fewer than one in three parents shop these stores but according to the National Retail Federation, that could be a mistake. Shoppers assume stores like Staples and Office Depot can’t compete with prices offered by Target and Walmart. However, back-to-school is the season for office supply stores and they don’t disappoint. Their “doorbuster” pricing on basic supplies like pens, pencils, folders and loose-leaf paper can be cheaper than big-box stores.
Last, buy only what you need. Avoid the items that look fun. Shop alone – leave the kids at home. I know this might sound harsh but once they see those fun items, it is just a matter of seconds before they are in your cart and heading home with you.
Have a great 2018-2019 school year!!!