Tips for Back-to-School Shopping: Where to Shop, What to Buy

By Barbara Danza, Epoch Times
August 18, 2015 Updated: October 8, 2018    

For many parents back-to-school time means long supply lists and lots of shopping. For those of us with an unnatural love for shiny, fresh office supplies (eh hem) this is an exciting prospect. For others, a drag. 

A recent survey by the National Retail Federation predicts that the average family with kindergarteners through high-schoolers plans to spend $630.36 in preparation for the new school year. That adds up to a whopping $24.9 billion in spending nation-wide and retailers are ready to deliver.

On the other hand, a survey by Deloitte showed that parents are also more willing to reuse last year’s items and wait until the school year begins to check off all of the items on their list.

“Nearly 4 in 10 (38 percent) of surveyed parents shopping for children in grades K-12 … said they replenish school supplies throughout the year and feel less need to stock up. Nearly one-third (31 percent) of respondents plan to complete their back-to-school shopping after the start of the school year, a 5 percentage point increase from 2014,” Deloitte’s report said.

With more options than ever and fickle customer needs, retailers are pulling out all the stops to entice shoppers into their stores and offer a wide array of fun and functional products for Back to School season. 

Staples

Few retailers are taking the changing shopping landscape more seriously than Staples. The office supply store, in answer to the growth of online comparison shopping, and with one eye on its direct competitor Amazon, is offering a 110 percent price match guarantee on all back-to-school items, meaning they’ll match any better price you can find, then drop it by another 10 percent of the difference.

Additionally, they are slashing prices on some must-have items, like pens, Post-its, and Sharpies. Oh my!

My favorite store item is also on sale: the Staples® Better® View Binders with D-Rings. Is it possible to get this excited about a binder? Yes, yes it is.

Staples.com
Staples.com

These guys come in an array of sizes and delicious bright colors and they seem to answer every complaint you’ve ever had about that run-of-the-mill binder you’ve been using up until now. Definitely stock up on these! 

Target 

Target is making back to school shopping more convenient for parents this year with the new School List Assist. This online tool suggests common K-8 needs and allows parents to purchase the items online with the option to pick them up in-store or have them shipped home.

(Target.com)
Star Wars and Frozen folders available at Target. (Target.com)

Target is a great place to stop if your kids are hoping to show their appreciation for their favorite teams or characters via their school supplies. There are many styles to choose from, including these Star Wars and Frozen folders which probably won’t last very long. 

Amazon

Of course, parents always have the option to find just about anything they might need by shopping Amazon. One stand-out that older students might hope for this year is a smart pen. Digitally recording hand-written notes along with audio accompaniment will make you wonder how you ever got through school without it.

Etsy

The most fun place to do your back-to-school shopping is Etsy! Your little pupils will stand out from the rest with the creative offerings on this handcrafters marketplace.

From custom pencils to embroidered backpacks to iron on clothing labels to custom signs for those first day of school photos and on and on. There are so many creative options waiting to be discovered here. Be sure to pencil in enough time for prolonged browsing.

I’ve got my eye on these monogrammed notebooks.  

TheMonogramLine/etsy.com
TheMonogramLine/etsy.com

Zappos

When it comes to clothes or shoes, Zappos is hard to beat. With great selections, including favorite designers and brands, free shipping, and the best return policy on the internet, Zappos is a hassle-free way to shop online.

This Tommy Hilfiger tee for girls is my favorite!

zappos.com
zappos.com

L.L. Bean

If your kids are in the market for a new backpacks and lunch boxes this year, I highly recommend the selection at L.L. Bean. They are durable, guaranteed for life, and come in a variety of sizes and styles. L.L. Bean’s customer service is exceptional and their items ship fast and free!