Back To School Shopping & Promotions

Time to shop for back to school supplies? Here are a few more tips!

If you’re struggling to cover back-to-school expenses, you’re not alone. The stock analysts at Citigroup are already predicting a decline in back-to-school sales. This is the first downswing in back-to-school buying since Citigroup started tracking stats back in 1995.

How Much Less Will People Be Buying?

Are you buying less for back-to-school? Join the crowd. Citigroup estimates August and September sales at established stores will fall around 3 to 4 percent. A couple of years ago at this time, stores experienced a 1 percent increase in sales. The National Retail Federation expects the average family with school-age kids will spend about 8 percent less than last year. The International Council of Shopping Center found sales in July were down 8.3 percent. Hard times are hitting everyone hard. More parents and teens are foregoing status for practicality to stretch a buck.

Shopping With Rewards Credit Cards

Interestingly, there are credit card issuers that are offering back-to-school promotions to create buzz around their credit cards, particularly student credit cards. For example, Citibank has their three flagship student cards on the forefront — if you sign up for any one of these cards before September 30, 2010, you’ll receive a $50 statement credit. If you’re on the lookout for a new card and you’re a student, these may be good choices as they are certainly geared towards rewarding you for being a good customer who can also manage your credit wisely. The cards that offer this credit are: Citi mtvU Platinum Select Card, Citi Dividend Platinum Select Card and the Citi Forward Card for Students.

Shopping Around For Back-To-School Essentials

Saving money means more planning. Comparison shopping is key to get the best deals. Review circulars, cruise websites, search online for deals and get in email lists for the latest coupons at your favorite retailers. Coupons and comparison shopping can save you up to fifty percent or more off back-to-school essentials. Websites such as Shop It To Me and Fat Wallet can help you find the latest, greatest deals.

Look For The Specials

Retailers such as Staples realize that warehouse clubs and Walmart have an advantage in this tight economy. In response, Staples is offering deep discounts on 250 back-to-school items to stay in the game. Michael A. Miles, Jr., Staples president and chief operating officer, commented, “This year with the economy being what it is, it’s all about value.” You have to keep your eye out for the lowest prices by comparison shopping and considering retailers that used to be expensive. Walmart has laptops starting at $348 for a 17-inch Toshiba. Best Buy has sales with dorm accessories such as printers, electronics and microwaves for under $100.

And what about They are brimming with great back to school deals: check this link for deals that are valid up to August 16, 2010.

Brand Loyalty Shifts

In years gone by, kids were hooked on a certain designer or brand name. Kids today are getting more frugal, realizing that they would rather have four cool outfits they can mix and match, rather than one expensive one. Google has discovered that searches for coupons increased 40 percent over last year. Searches for deals at budget retailers such as Walmart and Aéropostale have dramatically increased. Kids are forsaking their favorites to have enough jeans and shirts to get through the school year. As a result, kids are also discovering that quality clothing is available for less.

Freecycling, Yard Sales and Back-To-School Supplies

Someone else’s garbage can be another person’s gain. Offer your old backpacks, jeans and shirts on Freecycle. Place a want ad on Freecycle for back-to-school items you need. There are plenty of yard sales in late August and early September. Comb these informal sales for cheap back-to-school essentials. Or why not offer your own yard sale deals to earn a few dollars toward back-to-school notebooks, pencils and books?

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