Most parents take their kids back-to-school shopping in August of each month. This is when many items go on sale. Pencils, notebooks, folders, kids backpacks and more seem to be marked down significantly for the new school year.
However, not all items are worth buying this time of the month. So when is the best time to get deal on back-to-school items?
August for expensive items
Mark Di Vincenzo of Time Magazine warns that August really isn’t the best time to shop for all items: “Retail analysts attribute much of those sales to back-to-school shopping, and although August is a good month to buy back-to-school supplies, it’s not the only month. And it’s usually not the best month.”
He reports that retailers earned billions every year in August, some of the biggest sales of the years. Many items are on sale in August, but others can be purchased for the same price — or less — if purchased at other times of the year, so you might as well avoid the rush.
“August is the best month to buy the most expensive school supply: computers,” he says. Laptops are typically well-priced at this point with discounts of $100 or more. You’ll only potentially see better prices during Black Friday sales, but you can buy computers in August without fighting the crowds for them.
He also shares that many states have a tax-free weekend in August where you can get a reduction in sales tax for the items you’re purchasing. If you’re buying your big-ticket items this time of year, it’s a great opportunity to save.
September for most other things
If you can avoid shopping in August, just wait a couple of weeks until the crowds die down and hit the stores in September. At this point, stores are going through their back-to-school inventory and selling the surplus at lower prices to make room for other products.
After Labor Day is the best time to get your school supplies, according to Di Vincenzo. He recommends thinking ahead to the next school year and stocking up during this time.
Many schools don’t start until nearly September anyway, so you can get away with delaying your school shopping by a couple of weeks to get a good deal on items.
Spring and summer yard sales
If you don’t mind secondhand items, Di Vincenzo also recommends hitting up yard sales during the spring and the summer to stock up for future school years. You can find all sorts of gently used items at these sales when individuals are trying to cut down on the junk accumulating in their houses. You’ll pay less than a quarter of what you would pay in the store for fantastic items your kids will love.
Thrift stores are also likely to have a larger abundance of school supplies during the spring and summer. Some items will not be worth your time, but if you’re willing to hunt, you’ll find high-ticket items for pennies.
Winter for clothing
The best time to purchase new clothing is absolutely not the fall. While crayons might be marked down, clothing sales will be minimal compared to what you can get in the winter. In January and February, stores begin clearing their inventory for new items, and you can save hundreds of dollars on clothing items by shopping the clearance racks.
Savvy shoppers anticipate their kids’ sizes for the next year and buy clothes for them now. You’ll especially want to buy coats, sweaters, underwear, and socks during these sales because you’ll find the cheapest prices of anytime this year.