The second week of July through the last week of August is when retailers offer the best back-to-school shopping deals, but you’re probably still wondering if or when your kids will head back to their classrooms with all the coronavirus activity.
There will likely be a lot of variance when it comes to re-opening between school districts and states, so no one can say anything for certain just yet. But you can check out the CDC’s guidelines for schools just to be prepared.
In the meantime, retailers and stores everywhere are ramping up for back to school, so you can shop ’til you drop from the safety of your home or in-person if you’re willing to brave the aisles!
To find the best school supplies sales out there, you MUST follow KCL’s Back-to-School page (once you visit the page, you’ll have the chance to “opt in” for back-to-school emails).
Also, download the KCL app to have KCL’s Back-to-School page and all the deals right at your fingertips.
Now, check out all the ways you can save when you’re shopping for back-to-school supplies:
1. Note stock-up prices before you start back-to-school shopping.
It’s so easy to know when to buy and when to wait for a better price while you’re doing back-to-school shopping if you have the KCL Back-to-School Stock-up List handy right there on your smartphone while you’re shopping.
Here are some snippets:
- 1-inch Binder stock-up price: $1 each
- Colored pencils, 12-count stock-up price: $0.50/pkg
- Composition notebook stock-up price: $0.50 each
- Crayons, 24-count stock-up price: $0.30/box
- Mechanical pencils, 5-count stock-up price: $0.50/pkg
- Spiral notebook, 1 subject stock-up price: $0.25 each
Download the KCL Back to School 2020 Stock Up List!
2. Shop on Sunday and Monday — supplies run out quickly.
Weekly sales start Sunday mornings, and back-to-school inventory isn’t always restocked quickly (or at all if you’re shopping in August).
3. Buy calculators from your local dollar store.
If you’re uncomfortable entering the store, no problem; Dollar Tree now offers online shopping and delivery.
Shop for expensive back-to-school supplies like calculators, planners or clipboards at dollar stores to cut costs.
Sure, you might not find a graphing calculator at Dollar Tree, but you’ll find a basic calculator that’ll save you at least $10-$15.
4. Look for coupons, especially on brands like Bic, Kleenex and Post-it.
Watch for manufacturer and store coupons from office supply brands during July and August. Redeem the manufacturer coupons on sale items for the biggest savings. Specifically, look for:
- Magazine coupons like the ones from Parenting are a fantastic source of coupons for back-to-school.
- Sunday newspaper coupons from sources like RedPlum, SmartSource and Procter & Gamble will have a few coupons for school supplies each week.
- In-store coupons are typically found on the shelves or inside products. Walgreens usually has lots of school supply coupons in the weekly ad in the front of the store.
- Printable coupons for school supplies become available while summer is still in full swing, so warm up your printer!
- Check sites online for coupons, like $3 off eligible BIC products, these Kleenex coupons for Amazon purchases, or these $0.50 – $1.00-off Post-it coupons.
5. Get pens, pencils and Cover-it for free with coupons at the dollar store.
Use your manufacturer coupons (like Bic coupons) on items at the dollar store to get a freebie.
For example, if you see a Bic coupon for $1/1 Bic stationary product, use this coupon at your dollar store on items marked $1 to get Bic-brand items like pens, pencils and Cover-it for free.
6. Buy markers and paint supplies from Michaels or JOANN.
If you’re not sure if your local Michaels is open, check Michaels’ online store locator. They’re offering curbside pickup and delivery in case you don’t wanna brave it inside, and the same goes for JOANN (check their store locations to see if any are open near you).
Michaels and JOANN offer coupons and discounts every week. We’ve seen coupons for 25% off your entire purchase and 40% off one regular-priced item.
Michaels and JOANN both allow multiple coupons per transaction, as long as they’re different types of coupons. Meaning, you can stack a dollar-off coupon with a percent-off coupon from a different source (mobile, mailer, etc.).
TIP: If you are a teacher, you can save 15% on every order by enrolling for JOANN teacher rewards program.
Download the KCL Back to School 2020 Stock Up List!
7. Purchase kid-friendly backpacks online for up to 75% off.
If your kid is a little older, 6pm.com and eBags carry sportier, more stylish brands. They’re a bit pricier, but if you shop their summer sales (you can get up to 70% off with eBags’ Summer Deal Days sale), you can snag hip bags without burning a hole in your pocket.
PRO TIP: Sign up for eBags’ newsletter and get up to 65% off your first purchase.
8. Shop tax-free if your state allows it.
Hey, is your state not on the list? Road trip time!
- Alabama: July 17-19, 2020 (clothing, computers, books and school supplies)
- Arkansas: August 1-2, 2020 (clothing and school supplies)
- Connecticut: August 16-22, 2020 (clothing and footwear)
- Florida: August 7-9, 2020 (school supplies, clothing and computers)
- Iowa: August 7-8, 2020 (clothing)
- Maryland: August 9-15, 2020 (clothing and footwear)
- Massachusetts: August 29-30 2020 (most purchases under $2,500)
- Mississippi: July 24-25, 2020 (clothing and footwear)
- Missouri: August 7-9, 2020 (clothing, computers and school supplies)
- New Mexico: August 8-9, 2020 (clothing, computers, computer equipment and school supplies)
- Ohio: August 7-9, 2020 (clothing and school supplies)
- Oklahoma: August 7-9, 2020 (clothing)
- South Carolina: August 7-9, 2020 (clothing, school supplies and computers)
- Tennessee: July 31- August 2, 2020 (clothing, school supplies and computers)
- Texas: August 7-9, 2020 (clothing, backpacks and school supplies)
- Virginia: August 7-9, 2020 (clothing, school supplies and energy star products)
States like Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon are always tax-free states.
9. Get free AirPods this year if your kids are in the market for a new Mac or iPad.
This year, you can get free AirPods when you purchase a Mac or iPad. You’ll get “education pricing” and save 20% on AppleCare, to boot.
This deal is more targeted towards college students, but with everything going digital, your ‘tween may need a nice laptop, as well!
10. Hit up Target for $5 gift card deals.
Gift card deals can vary. In June 2020, Target is offering Order Pickup, Drive Up and Same Day Delivery deals for gift cards like:
- Buy 4 personal care items using Order Pickup, Drive Up or Same Day Delivery and get $5
- Spend $25 on laundry care items using Order Pickup, Drive Up or Same Day Delivery and get $5
- Spend $75 or more on baby diapers, wipes and toiletries using in-store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Same Day Delivery and get $15
When it comes to using Target coupons, you can still use manufacturer and store coupons, but for in-store purchases only.
RELATED: How to Coupon at Target
11. Shop Target clearance markdowns for kids on Mondays.
Every Monday, Target marks down their kids’ clothing — so make sure you’re ready to shop to score the best back-to-school clothing deals.
12. Don’t buy school supplies at Target without checking the Target app.
Never, I repeat — never shop at Target without the Target app ever again.
When you have the Target app, you’ll get access to Target Circle offers like a percentage off a certain department (ahem — school supplies!).
13. Spend your rewards from drugstores — CVS or Walgreens — on school supplies.
A great shopping strategy is to use these points on back-to-school supplies.
Last July, Walgreens had backpacks on sale for $3.
14. For one-stop shopping, go to Walmart.
If you can’t wait for sales or stock-up prices or you don’t want to make multiple shopping trips, Walmart is your jam.
You’ll get everyday low prices and when it comes to back-to-school supplies, Walmart lives up to the hype.
NextDay is only available for items labeled “NextDay eligible” — but lots of back-to-school items qualify, like calculators, uniforms and even school supplies like notepads and pencil cases. Just spend $35 or more to get your delivery free of charge.
While you’re shopping at Walmart, check out Walmart coupons, too!
15. Utilize price matching at stores like Staples, Target and more.
Use price matching to your advantage — especially when shopping for back-to-school items. These stores all offer price matching!
- Staples: Staples’ price matching policy claims they’ll match a competitor’s price on identical items, plus give you an extra 10% discount.
- JCPenney: JCP’s lowest price guarantee policy is more like a price adjustment meets a price match. Get 5% back if you find a lower price after you make a JCP purchase.
- Kohl’s: Kohl’s price match policy gives you a competitor’s in-store price if you bring the ad with you while shopping in-store.
- Target: Target’s price match guarantee will lower your price if you find the identical item cheaper on Target.com, a select online competitor’s site, or in a competitor or Target print ad.
- Office Depot/OfficeMax: Office Depot and Office Max’s price match policy will match an item if you find it cheaper online. The same goes for competitors: If you find it cheaper online or in-store, they’ll match the price within 14 days of your purchase.
- JOANN: JOANN’s price match policy says they’ll match advertised prices on identical merchandise.
16. Use the Amazon app to do real-time price checks.
Use the Amazon app in-store to check prices so you get the lowest price possible.
If Amazon’s price is cheaper, you could technically place an Amazon order right then and there. Buying Amazon school supplies is a legit strategy when the price is right (refer to the KCL Back-to-School Stock-Up Price List)!
But instead, you could just march that cheaper Amazon price on your phone up to customer service and request a price match.
PRO TIP: Check out these Amazon deals for even better ways to save!
RELATED: Do These Stores Price Match Amazon?
17. Sign up for text or email coupons to save on school clothes.
Make sure you’ve signed up for all of these text and email coupons before you start back-to-school shopping, even if you’re buying school supplies online.
- H&M: Join H&M’s free loyalty program and get 10% off your next purchase
- Gap: Sign up for Gap emails for a 25% off coupon(scroll to the bottom of the page to sign up if you don’t get a popup to register)
- Kohl’s: Sign up for Kohl’s emails and get 15% off
- Macy’s: Create a Macy’s profile and get 25% off your next order
- The Children’s Place: Sign up for The Children’s Place text alerts and get $10 off
18. Shop for clothes at Old Navy on Friday morning.
Or, use the Old Navy store locator to check your nearby stores. You’ll see options like “in-store shopping”, “curbside pickup” and “in-store pickup” available.
They’re still rolling out this service to more locations as they reopen stores across the country, so check their site everyday for updates.
For those of you who can shop in-person. Old Navy marks “price cuts” on Thursday, so typically I’ll try to hit the store Friday morning. Clearance markdowns happen on Monday night, so I also shop Tuesday.
19. Buy discounted gift cards from Raise and CardBear to save up to 13%.
- Walgreens: 8.8% savings
- The Children’s Place: 5.46% savings
- Office Depot: 5.4% savings
- Michaels: 7% savings
- JCP: 7.92% savings
- Old Navy: 11% savings
- Staples: 3.5% savings
- Kohl’s: 12% savings
- Target: 7.5% savings
- Walmart: 1.6% savings
RELATED: Gift Card Hacks You Should Be Using
20. Use rebate apps like Ibotta to save on school supplies after your purchase.
RELATED: Your Ultimate Guide to Rebate Apps
21. Shop through Rakuten Ebates to get cash back every time you shop.
When you’re buying school supplies online, just initiate your purchases through Rakuten Ebates to get cash back.
Just download the button extension (it’s free) for your browser. Whenever you shop school supplies — or any other partner site — you’ll see a Rakuten cash-back popup. Confirm you want cash back and then proceed with your order.
For example, you can get up to 4% back when you shop Macy’s online through Rakuten.
Or shop on the go through the Rakuten Ebates app — whichever you prefer!
22. Shop at JCPenney for back-to-school clothes with sales and coupons.
At the very end of July 2019, JCPenney offered kid’s polo uniform shirts for $5 (reg. $22).
A few weeks before the uniform polo sale, JCPenney offered the same polo shirts “Buy 1, Get 2 Free,” or $7.33 each.
In August 2019, we saw girls’ leggings marked down to $4.99 (reg. $1, plus you could use a promo code to get an extra 15% off.
Like other stores, JCPenney offers curbside pickup and delivery as part of their COVID-19 policy. Check the JCPenney store locator to see what stores have reopened near you, or shop their back-to-school sales online.
Also, check out these hot JCPenney deals to save even more.
23. Shop for school clothes at Macy’s on Tuesday or Wednesday.
Macy’s tends to start in-store markdowns on Sundays. Which means shopping Tuesday or Wednesday will be the best times to score newly marked-down apparel.
Get even more savings this back-to-school season with these Macy’s deals.
24. Decode price tags in order to know if you’re getting the lowest. price. possible!
Every store has a different secret coding system, and learning how to decode the secret language of price tags is key in saving you money. Here are some examples:
- Gap prices ending in $0.97 are final markdowns, referred to as “price kills.”
- Old Navy clearance ends in a 7 or 9. Usually prices ending in $0.47 are final markdowns.
- T.J.Maxx yellow price tags indicate final markdowns.
- Kohl’s uses a square in the upper-right corner of their LCD price tag to indicate the item has reached the lowest price of the season.
Don’t scroll up — here are (a few) of your links:
Name-Brand School Supplies at the Dollar Store
JOANN Fabrics Hacks from an Insider Source
How to Get the Best Back-to-School Sales Without Leaving Your House
How to Coupon at Target
Ways to Save More on Clothes at Target
How I Saved 20% on Back-to-School Items at Walgreens