School’s out for the summer and kids are enjoying alarm-free mornings and homework-free afternoons. While parents are likely more focused on planning vacations and keeping their kids occupied, summer is a good time to pick up select school supplies for the upcoming season. Taking advantage of summer sales means spreading out the cost of back-to-school supplies, which in 2015 cost families an average of $630.
While electronics and basic supplies are better purchased in August, the following items can be purchased over the summer at a discount.
1. Basic Apparel Styles
Starting Memorial Day weekend, spring and summer apparel staples including tees, tank tops, shorts, and skirts go on sale as retailers try to woo consumers who are otherwise focused on outdoor activities. These basics are great for back-to-school because they can be worn during the first several weeks of school and as layers when the weather starts to cool off. Look for savings of 20% to 50% off, and use online resources like Retale and Flipp to scan store circulars digitally and compare discounts between retailers like Target, JCPenney, Kohl’s, and more.
2. Uniform Garments
Though kids are not focused on school during the summer months, retailers know parents are always thinking ahead. In the past, uniform basics like polos, skirts, and slacks are offered at a discount from retailers ranging from Macy’s to Old Navy to Lands’ End.
3. Athletic Apparel & Goods
Parents of athletic kids know how expensive sporting gear can be at the start of each new season. Fourth of July sales often feature deals from such retailers as Dick’s Sporting Goods, Sports Authority, and Big 5 Sporting Goods. During the first two weeks in July last year, for example, Sports Authority offered savings of up to 40% on football gear, while Big 5 Sporting Goods offered discounts on name-brand competitive swimwear. Look for stackable discounts from sites like
CouponSherpa.com, where you can sometimes find coupons with extra percentages off your purchases.
4. Furnishings for the College Bound
Grown-up kids heading back to college can find deep discounts on furniture basics in July. New styles of furniture debut in February and August, making the month prior to each of these events a great time to pick up clearance styles for less. Last year, Target and Kohl’s offered great discounts on furniture in July. In addition to department stores and furniture shops, scout online stores like Overstock and Wayfair, both of which offer a huge selection of furniture and discounted or even free shipping.
5. Double-Duty Supplies
While some supplies are better purchased at the end of summer, items your child can use right now and later are a good buy. For example, a new travel backpack can double as a school backpack once class starts, and online retailer eBags typically has discounts and sales of some kind to help offset the cost. Same goes for crayons and markers, which can be used during family road trips and at the start of class. One way to save money on double-duty items that aren’t yet on sale is to sign up for retail e-mail clubs. You can often score 10% to 25% off with a new-member discount.