Although retailers began promoting back-to-school deals earlier than ever, the National Retail Federation found 77 percent of parents still need to buy basic supplies while 70 percent have yet to buy clothing. Heavily influenced by coupons and sales, Mom and Dad may be holding off in hopes of scoring bigger bargains later in the season. Procrastinating any further, however, could result in missed savings and a low selection of sale items.
Follow this guide to save time and money on last-minute school shopping needs.
Locate store sales quickly.
One of the pains of bargain hunting is the time it takes to locate the best sales; who has time to drive from store to store, after all? Apps like Retale and Flipp make it easy to find sales at stores in your zip code so you can quickly compare deals and know where to go for the best bargains.
Pick up supplies with spare change.
The popular penny promotion offered by office suppliers like Staples and Office Depot provides rock-bottom prices on essentials such as 25-cent notebooks, 50-cent glue and 75-cent filler paper. Collect the spare change you have laying around y percentour house or empty that coin jar in the laundry room to snag these essentials on the cheap, because these sales are coming to a close.
Snag savings online.
In addition to in-store savings, online retailers are still offering back-to-school savings plus early Labor Day deals. Avoid paying for delivery by searching for free shipping codes on sites like FreeShipping.org, or seek out promo codes to top retailers from such sites as Coupon Sherpa. You can also take advantage of free site-to-store shipping, a trendy offering from popular stores like Kohl's, JCPenney and Macy's. In fact, you can use a Macy's promo code to score a coupon for 15 to 20-percent off your next purchase when you pick up an online order in store.
Run errands at lunch.
Finding time to shop, compare prices and look for coupons may seem impossible, especially for working parents who have to shuttle kids to and from school and soccer practice, and then make dinner and get everyone tucked into bed! Turn your lunch break into a shopping trip and spend less time searching for deals by using such apps as Target Cartwheel for additional savings, or Walmart's Savings Catcher for in-store credit when something you purchase is better priced elsewhere.
Request a price match.
Back-to-school is the second-heaviest retail shopping season next to the holidays, so stores are eager for your business. Many popular retailers offer price matching with their competitors as well as with online stores. For example, Target, Walmart and BestBuy will price-match Amazon, while Staples is offering a 110% price-match guarantee through Sept. 17, meaning you'll receive an additional 10-percent off any price-matched item. This makes last-minute shopping easier since you don't have to bother driving to another store or waiting for an online delivery; simply request a price match and save money immediately!
Carve out time to shop over Labor Day.
Labor Day is one of the biggest shopping weekends of the year, with top deals on back-to-school staples including supplies, warm-weather clothing and even big-ticket items like mattresses and appliances. This is a great opportunity to wrap up your back-to-school lists with savings of up to 75-percent off in some cases. Study up on the do's and don'ts of Labor Day shopping to ensure you don't overspend.
Procrastinate further on a select items.
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While you may want to put back-to-school shopping to bed, it's important to hold off on a few essentials until they're better priced. Fall apparel including denim are actually better buys in October, during Columbus Day sales. Even laptops and other gadgets can be purchased later in the year if you're budget is strained, since experts agree prices drop during November and December for the holiday shopping season.