When to Purchase School Supplies to Get the Best Deals

Blog | August 24th, 2018

Back-to-school time can be exciting for kids, and costly for parents. According to the National Retail Federation, families with school-age children will spend an average of $685 this year on back-to-school shopping. That’s more than the average family spends on Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Valentine’s Day combined.

But if you time it right, you can lessen the back-to-school blow to your bank account. Here’s a look at when to purchase school supplies to get the best deals.

Traditional School Supplies

In August, you can take advantage of “loss leader” sales on school supplies such as notebooks, pencils, glue sticks and filler paper.

You will find deals such as 25-cent rulers, 10-cent glue sticks or 50-cent crayons at regional supermarket chains, and at national retailers such as Walmart, Office Depot, Staples, Walgreens and CVS.

If you shop these sales each week, chances are you will be able to check off most of your school supply list before school starts.

If you want to buy everything on your children’s lists in one shopping trip, you may want to visit Target, which pledges the same low prices on school supply items all season, or a low-cost retailer such as Dollar Tree or 99 Cents Only Stores.

Watch for coupons on school supplies in August, as well. Companies such as Bic, Pilot, Sharpie and Five Star have been known to offer coupons for their products in August, like this pen coupon, for example. Discount retailer Dollar General is also offering a digital coupon for $5 off a $15 school supply purchase.


While you will find many percent-off sales on backpacks in July and August, the best time to buy a backpack is in September. Immediately after Labor Day, retailers are eager to start clearing out their back-to-school stock to make way for winter holiday décor and other items.

If you can wait to buy a backpack for your child, you’ll find them marked on clearance for 50 percent to 75 percent off by mid- to late-September at retailers such as Target, Walmart, Kohl’s and Marshall’s.



Laptops and Electronics

As you shop for school supplies, know that the month of August is one of the best months of the year to purchase a laptop computer and accessories such as external hard drives and USB flash drives. So, if you have a child going off to college or need a new computer for your younger kids at home, you may want to invest in one now.

Back-to-school sales on laptops at retailers such as Best Buy and Amazon often offer the same or better savings as Black Friday/Cyber Monday and holiday season sales.

If you need to hold off on a laptop purchase, April is another good month to buy one. That’s when new laptop models tend to hit the shelves, and retailers place the older models on clearance.

Clothing and Shoes

Another important aspect of back-to-school shopping in many families is getting new clothes and shoes. As is true with many apparel items, you will always get a better deal by shopping off-season.

If you need athletic shoes or school uniforms in July or August before school begins, you can save money by paying attention to the sales and not buying anything at regular price. Each week, you will find sales of up to 50 percent off at retailers such as Kohl’s, The Gap, Target and Macy’s, or try off-price retailers such as TJ Maxx or Ross.

If you can wait until late September or October to purchase most of your children’s school uniforms or fall clothing, you’ll find items at these retailers for sale at deeper discounts, as the stores clear out the back-to-school season items.

The best time to shop for anything is when you need it. But when you find a deep discount this fall, keep in mind that you may want to purchase now to save for next year, as well.