It’s back-to-school time! The National Retail Federation reports that this year we will spend $83.6 billion on school clothing and supplies, an increase of 10 percent over last year’s total. That breaks down to an average of $688 per K-12 student and the second-largest shopping season behind Christmas.
Even if you are like me and your last little one graduated from high school a decade or more ago, it is time to take a look at those sales. There are deals to be had.
Electronics are at great prices this time of year. The computers are very reasonable this year with some basic levels checking in at around $300. This isn’t the time to buy the high-end, gaming computers, but the basic ones are at a very reasonable price. Printers, tablets and headphones are also at good prices.
Office supplies are priced to go as well. Even if you don’t need these items for school, we all need pencils, markers and paper. Again, the really good prices are on the basic types. The stores use these rock-bottom prices as loss leaders. They offer great prices to get you through the door and hope that the plain yellow pencil simply doesn’t compare to the pink leopard print that is 10 times more expensive.
I saw an advertisement for glue sticks and pens at 10 for $1. Everyone needs these two items. Also on sale were pencils, sticky notes, crayons, markers, folders and notebooks. Each year, I buy several pairs of kid’s scissors. They will handle paper and fabric for quite a while before they get dull.
Clothes are a common back-to-school buy. Though I won’t be wearing the same kind of clothes that are often on sale for younger folks, there are bargains. It is a great time to buy jeans. The ones I saw were about 20 percent off of normal costs. Shoes are another good buy. Popular styles as well as basic shoes are 10 to 20 percent off.
This is also a good time to buy some of those basics that we all wear — underwear and socks. Underwear is one item that still surprises me with its price. You can buy pants at a lower price than the underwear that goes beneath them. Stock up on these items while you can get good prices. Socks are another consumable that we never seem to have enough of. Lost and stained socks require constant replacement. Now is the time that I stock up on socks and underwear, which always find their way into my kids’ Christmas stockings.
All kids want a new backpack for the first day of school. Local ads had them at 50 percent off regular prices, so replace your worn backpack. Not only do they get dirty, straps wear out and break at the least opportune time.
This one may surprise you. It is a great time to buy household cleaning supplies. The school shopping list often includes tissues, sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizers, so look for good prices on these items. But you also might score good prices on paper towels and toilet tissue since stores target returning college students.
Remember to take advantage of good prices on the items you need, regardless of whether you are equipping a student or not.
Roxie Rodgers Dinstel is associate director of the Cooperative Extension Service, a part of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, working in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Questions or column requests can be e-mailed to her at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (907)474-7201