With households nationwide spending $27.6 billion on items like clothes, accessories and supplies, back-to-school is now the second biggest shopping season of the year, according to Deloitte research.
Americans may be parting with a lot of their money, but not necessarily happily. A recent survey from online retailer Zulily finds that 71 percent of Americans think that shoppers spend too much on back-to-school shopping. It’s no surprise then that over half of respondents marked budget as the most important factor in making purchases for that first day of school, over convenience and being on-trend.
But experts say you don’t have to sacrifice convenience or style to stay on-budget. To help keep your wallet intact while you seek out all the coolest back-to-school gear, merchandising director at Zulily, Carmela Matthews, a retail veteran, offers these shopping tips:
• Plan in advance
Avoid stressful, pricey last-minute shopping. Get started early in the summer so you can be finished before all the good seasonal deals are gone.
• Get organized
Put together a checklist so you don’t forget any of the necessities.
“Take stock of what you have and what you need by cleaning out closets prior to shopping,” says Matthews. “Stay organized by sorting items into piles for donations, consignment and hand-me-downs.”
• Create a budget
While summer sales can help you save, it’s still important to set a realistic spending limit, as well as to look for the best deals available to stay within budget.
• Shop mobile
Apps like Zulily offer parents a wide variety of back-to-school essentials for kids, whether they’re pre-k or college age, at amazing prices. Essentials include apparel, shoes, accessories, school supplies, toys and dorm décor. Savings multiply when shoppers buy two items or more, but the great deals typically only last 72 hours.
With 77 percent of Americans saying that they think school supplies are more expensive today than during the 1990s (according to the Zulily survey) this year, the online retailer is taking a different spin on its time-limited sales and will be launching a special retro collection by debuting a six-week blast-from-the-past sale featuring iconic school season essentials from the 90s — at 90s prices. Each #ThrowbackThursday from July 18 to Aug. 22, 2019, shoppers will have the opportunity to shop new, curated and charmingly retro-inspired goods for the whole family with prices to match the era of Tetris and Lisa Frank.
• Stockpile favorites
When you find something your child loves and needs each year for school at a great price, be sure to buy a few extra so you can take advantage of the great deal for years to come. Purchasing for kids for several years (with the expectation that they will grow) can provide wallet relief. When you buy multiples of the same item in larger sizes, place them in labeled bins that you can pull out upon closet clean-out the following year to avoid buying duplicates.
With some smart strategizing, you can prepare for a successful, stylish and affordable school year.