The second week of July through the last week of August is when retailers offer the best back-to-school shopping deals. I don’t know about you, but I’m stoked to shop all the 2021 back-to-school sales after the last school year we had.
Most schools and districts are completely re-opening in-school learning after an unprecedented 2020-2021 school year, which means a lot of folks are going to be looking for back-to-school sales (me, included!) for everything from shoes and clothes, to laptop deals and face masks.
You’ve come to the right place to find the best school supplies sales out there. First, you must follow KCL’s Back-to-School sales page (once you visit the page, you’ll have the chance to “opt in” for back-to-school emails). Then, 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 back-to-school shopping:
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 Price 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: $0.25/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 2021 Stock Up List!
2. Shop back-to-school sales on Sunday and Monday — supplies run out quickly.
Weekly back-to-school sales at most stores start Sunday mornings, and inventory isn’t always restocked quickly (or at all if you’re shopping in August).
3. 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 back-to-school coupons.
- Sunday newspaper coupons from sources like Retail Me Not, 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 $1 off eligible BIC products, these Kleenex coupons here for Amazon purchases, or these $1.00– $2.00-off Post-it coupons.
4. Get pens, pencils, and Cover-it for free with coupons at the dollar store.
Use your manufacturer coupons (like Bic coupons) on items at Dollar Tree to get a freebie.
For example, if you see a Bic coupon for $1/1 Bic stationery product, use this coupon at your Dollar Tree on items marked $1 to get Bic-brand items like pens, pencils, and Cover-it for free.
5. Buy calculators from your local dollar store.
If you’d rather go back-to-school shopping online; Dollar Tree now offers online shopping and delivery.
Shop for expensive 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.
6. Shop Target clearance markdowns for kids’ back-to-school outfits on Mondays.
Every Monday, Target marks down their kids’ clothing — so make sure you’re ready to shop to score the best deals on back-to-school clothes.
If your kid really wants a back-to-school outfit not on sale, check the price on Amazon before buying. Amazon carries familiar Target brands like C9 by Champion, as well as more common brands like Fruit of the Loom. All are free game for price matching. Just show a Target cashier the Amazon price at checkout.
7. 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!).
8. Hit up Target for $5 gift card deals.
Gift card deals can vary, but usually we’ll see Target gift card deals perfect for making your life and budget better for back-to-school, like:
- Buy 3 Hanes products, receive a $5 Target gift card (think socks and undershirts)
- Spend $50 on Tide products, receive a $15 Target gift card (think of all the extra laundry from extracurriculars)
- Buy 2 Pampers Diapers Enormous packs, receive a $15 Target gift card (baby mamas always need these)
When it comes to using Target coupons, you can still use manufacturer and store coupons, but for in-store purchases only.
Check out these awesome Target deals and sales.
9. This year’s Apple back-to-school sale includes free AirPods with select Mac and iPad purchases.
This year, you can get free AirPods when you purchase a Mac or iPad during the Apple back-to-school sale. 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!
See more Apple deals.
10. Shop tax-free if your state allows it.
Hey, is your state not on the list? Road trip time!
- Alabama: July 16-18, 2021 (clothing, computers, books, and school supplies)
- Arkansas: August 7-8, 2021 (clothing, clothing accessories, electronic device, art supplies, instructional books, and school supplies)
- Connecticut: August 15-21, 2021 (clothing and footwear)
- Florida: July 31-August 9, 2021 (school supplies, clothing, footwear, accessories, and computers)
- Iowa: August 6-7, 2021 (clothing and footwear)
- Maryland: August 8-14, 2021 (clothing, footwear, and a backpack or bookbag)
- Massachusetts: August 14-15 2021 (most purchases under $2,500)
- Mississippi: July 30-31, 2021 (clothing, footwear, and school supplies)
- Missouri: August 6-8, 2021 (clothing, computers, and school supplies)
- New Mexico: August 6-8, 2021 (clothing, computers, computer equipment, and school supplies)
- Ohio: August 6-8, 2021 (clothing and school supplies)
- Oklahoma: August 6-8, 2021 (clothing and footwear)
- South Carolina: August 6-8, 2021 (clothing, school supplies, and computers)
- Tennessee: July 31- August 1, 2021 (clothing, school supplies, and computers)
- Texas: August 6-8, 2021 (clothing, backpacks, and school supplies)
- Virginia: August 6-8, 2021 (clothing, school supplies, and energy star products)
States like Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon are always tax-free states.
11. Shop for clothes at Old Navy on Monday morning.
Old Navy marks “price cuts” on Sunday, so typically I’ll try to hit the store Sunday night or Monday morning.
12. Shop at JCPenney for back-to-school clothes with sales and coupons.
In late July 2020, shoppers could score 50% off school uniforms at JCPenney. Even better, JCP ran a promo for an extra 25% off any purchase under $75 or 30% off orders over $75 at the same time! Stacking both discounts made school uniform separates as low as $7!
A few weeks before the uniform sale, JCPenney also offered big discounts on Nike apparel and sandals for the whole family for less than $20 each.
13. Buy discounted gift cards from Raise and CardBear to save up to 26%.
Always check Raise and CardBear before you go shopping. You’ll end up saving a ton of money up front by purchasing discounted digital gift cards. Here are current savings you can get at some of the biggest retailers:
- Walgreens: 9% savings
- The Children’s Place: 7.6% savings
- Office Depot: 26.8% savings
- Michaels: 22.3% savings
- JCP: 6.4% savings
- Old Navy: 16.4% savings
- Staples: 3.3% savings
- Kohl’s: 10% savings
- Target: 8% savings
- Walmart: 6% savings
14. 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.
15. Sign up for text or email coupons to save on back-to-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.
16. Shop Macy’s for dorm room essentials like $10 toaster ovens and $17 sheet sets.
Deck your dorm room with the best back-to-school supplies for cheap.
In 2020 during Macy’s Black Friday in July sale, kitchen appliances like toaster ovens, blenders, and waffle makers, along with cookware sets, were just $10 after the sale price plus mail-in rebate. Keep an eye on cheap appliances through the summer on our Macy’s deals page.
Last August we also saw $80 sheet sets on sale for as low as $17!
17. Purchase back-to-school backpacks online for up to 75% off.
If your kid is a little older, 6pm.com and eBags carry sportier, more stylish back-to-school backpacks and trendy brands. They’re a bit pricier, but if you shop their summer sales, you can snag hip bags without burning a hole in your pocket.
PRO TIP: Sign up for eBags’ newsletter and get up to 10% off your first purchase.
18. 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 August, Walgreens had back-to-school backpacks on sale for $4 during a BOGO free sale!
19. Buy markers and paint supplies from Michaels or JOANN.
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’re a teacher, you can save 15% on every order by enrolling for JOANN teacher rewards program.
20. For one-stop back-to-school 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!
21. Use rebate apps like Ibotta to save on school supplies after your purchase.
RELATED: Your Ultimate Guide to Rebate Apps
22. Use the Amazon app to do real-time price checks.
Use the Amazon app in the 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!
23. Utilize price matching at stores like Staples, Target, and more.
Use price matching to your advantage — especially when back-to-school shopping. 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.