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Best time to buy school supplies

Major retailers want you to buy now, but the big discounts will come later.

By MSN Money Partner Jul 14, 2011 10:24AM

This post comes from Jeanine Skowronski at partner site MainStreet.


Just because your local retail store is beginning its back-to-school shopping season doesn't mean you should start buying your pens, pencils and notebooks quite yet.


Andrea Woroch, a consumer-savings expert for a network of money-saving websites called The Frugals, says major chains such as Target, Wal-Mart and Staples have already starting stocking shelves with school supplies and advertising discounts in circulars, but the efforts are more of an attempt to get your attention and the best deals have yet to come.


"The best time to buy is the end of July, when most retailers typically kick off back-to-school shopping sales and roll out discounts," Woroch says. She adds that some retailers will wait until even later -- mid- to late August -- to offer their lowest prices, especially on clothing and electronics.


"Retailers usually base their sales strategies depending on their community's school start dates, and parents can find great offers within a few weeks before their kids go off to school," she says.


Woroch explains that big chains have been rolling out their back-to-school displays earlier and earlier, since sales of these supplies have been a consistently lucrative source of revenue. Last year, the National Retail Federation estimated that consumers would spend a total of $55.1 billion on back-to-school merchandise. Post continues after video.

"Retailers want to get a chunk of this spending, and by rolling out offers earlier, they have a better chance of driving additional sales over a longer period and attracting more shoppers," she says, adding that stores are also hip to the fact that many shoppers like to get their back-to-school shopping done in advance so they can enjoy the end of summer with their family.


As such, Woroch says anyone itching to get their back-to-school shopping done now can still get some decent deals on the basics (notebooks, paper, pens) as long as they stick to the major chains, and also comparison shop before they decide which one to visit.


According to Teri Gault, CEO and founder of coupon site TheGroceryGame, you should be able to find some good deals at major pharmacies and grocery chains in late July as well.


After reviewing the coupons in her website's database, she found Walgreens was selling sharpeners with built-in erasers for 59 cents, 24-packs of pencils for 99 cents and a 10-pack of mechanical pencils for 39 cents the last week of July 2010. Rite Aid and supermarkets such as Albertsons and Jewel were offering similar discounts.


"Expect some of the best deals to be 75% off or better," Gault says.


You can find some more ways to save on school supplies in MainStreet's look at how to manage the wide range of things your kids will need when they go back to school.


More on MainStreet and MSN Money:



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