NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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New Rules for Back-to-School Shopping

New Rules for Back-to-School Shopping


In years past, school shopping consisted of: pick up the classroom list, make one stop at a box store with a flyer of advertised specials and check; back-to-school shopping was done.  With today’s economy and technology driven sales alerts though, there are new rules.

If back-to-school shopping for 2011-12 could be summed up in a single word, it is this: preparation.

Begin by asking the tech wizards in your house - the kids -  to find the best deals and the fattest coupons online.   Some 51% of shoppers who own tablet computers say they plan to use them for back-to-school shopping research, according to one national retailers organization.

Being early isn’t always best nowadays.  Shoppers who wait until right before school starts -- or even after it starts -- tend to get the best deals.  Last minute shoppers need to have flexible kids – if only the bright pink, latest licensed cartoon character will do for a pack back, you might want to shop early for that item.

Always shop with a list.   Whether it’s an old-fashioned list on paper or one downloaded on your smart phone, lists save money.  With a list you avoid forgetting what you’ve purchased already and so spending money on duplicates plus lists always help shoppers focus on needs -- not wants.

Scan before you buy. By scanning product bar codes or QR codes (those square patterns that can be read by smartphones), shoppers can learn a lot more about products on the shelf -- including product reviews and even competitive price information.  Consumers also can sign up for text alerts from most retailers and receive instant coupons to use in the store. Shoppers also can download shopping apps on their phones or tablets that will pull information about their location -- and shopping history -- and can spit out relevant coupons.

Shop in a different place.  The best back-to-school shopping deals are not always found at conventional retailers. Some of the best deals and great surprises are dollar stores for T-shirts and socks; drugstores for deals on snacks, and so-called flash sales (time-limited, steep online discounts) for clothing and beauty supplies.

It’s not grocery shopping, but still never shop hungry or tired.   Grocery shopping on an empty stomach is a big no-no, but shopping with young students in tow or even the entire family when hungry is a recipe for disaster.  Too quickly funds are spent on expensive snacks and snap decisions made so everyone can vacate the store.


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