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What to Expect From Back to School Sales 2017

We dig into our data to find the best stores and prices on notebooks, pens, school uniforms, computers, and more.
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With the smoke from the 4th of July having just cleared, the beginning of the school year may seem very far off. However, if you want to score the best deals, it's time to start thinking about back-to-school sales. To help you stretch your hard-earned dollars, we've analyzed our archives from July to August to help you make informed choices when shopping for your young scholars.

Pens, Pencils, Paper, and Other Supplies

For low-cost items such as these, it doesn't make sense to pay for shipping. Hence, you're more likely to find the best deals in-store at places like Walmart, where we saw notebooks for 50 cents and a 10-pack of ballpoint pens for just $1, or Office Depot and OfficeMax, who had prices as low as just a penny last year.

But if you prefer to shop online, plan to spend enough to bag free shipping or consider signing up for Amazon Prime. Last year, we saw storewide savings from retailers like Kmart, who gave customers Shop Your Way points equal to the amounts they spent (up to $25); Target, who rewarded shoppers with giftcards and had prices as low as 15 cents; and Staples, who offered an extra 25% off with the purchase of a qualifying backpack. Then there was our favorite deal of 3 lbs. of misprinted pens (about 171 pens) for $12 that popped up frequently last summer.

Backpacks

If a new backpack is on your shopping list for this coming school year, you should have no problem finding a deal. In addition to the added discount deal mentioned above, Target had backpacks priced as low as $4.49 last year, while Walmart had similar prices as low as $5. Meanwhile, the Disney Store discounted its fantastical packs up to 37% off, while the plainer packs at Lands End were marked down by as much as 40%.

SEE ALSO: 9 Things to Consider When Buying a Kids Backpack for School

Uniforms and Kids Apparel

Perhaps the most anticipated of all back-to-school events, clothing sales provide ample opportunities to score savings while pleasing your little fashionistas. Many retailers offered coupons for additional savings, with bigger discounts for bigger tabs. For example, last year, JCPenney discounted its kids apparel up to 50% off, but you saved another $10 if you spent at least $25 or an extra 25% if you spent at least $100. Kohl's, Macy's, and Sierra Trading Post also offered similar incentives on top of initial discounts. If you can, try to limit your shopping to one or two stores.

We saw the best school uniform deals at Target, which offered a buy one get one 60% off discount last year, plus an additional $5 off when you spent $50.

If your child wears a uniform to school, we saw the best deals at Target, which offered a buy one get one 60% off discount last year, plus an additional $5 off when you spent $50.

Shoes

Chances are, by September, your kid will have either outgrown or worn out their current pair of shoes. Luckily, this is another department where it's easy to save. Last year, we saw buy one get one half off discounts from Reebok and Shoe Carnival, who also threw in an additional discount of $5 to $20, depending on how much you spent.

Laptops

Although it's certainly debatable whether your child needs a laptop — and you'll definitely want to research your school's policy before making a purchase — you don't need to spend a lot to get something suitable. We saw plenty of solid machines last year for $200 and less (often Chromebooks), with at least 25% of those being Editors' Choice deals. And there are always plenty of $200-$300 options, if something more substantial is required.

SEE ALSO: Dell Inspiron 3000 Laptop Series: Everything You Need to Know

Tablets

If you're considering purchasing a tablet for your student, again make sure it's necessary and/or permissible. If it is, this is an item where a refurbished or open-box item might be a good option. These machines are almost as good as new, and can yield big savings. We saw lots of refurbs at A4C, while Best Buy and Microsoft had deals on new tablets, and Amazon offered discounts on its Fire tablets.

If you're considering an iPad, you'd do well to wait until September, when Apple is expected to unveil a new iPad and prices on older models, especially iPad Airs, will drop.

Freebies

In addition to the expected sales, keep your eye out for unexpected freebies. In past years, we've seen everything from haircuts to backpacks being given away, and there's no better price than free!

Readers, what are some of your favorite back-to-school deals? Let us know in the comments below.


Senior Staff Writer

Stephen has been writing for such national and regional publications as The Village Voice, Paste, The Agit Reader, and The Big Takeover for 20 years, and has been covering consumer electronics and technology for DealNews since 2013.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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