BBB offers back-to-school shopping tips

Published 6:21 pm Tuesday, August 9, 2016

RALEIGH — With summer vacation coming to an end, students are getting ready to head back to the classroom, but not before they head to the stores for some back-to-school shopping with their parents.

Better Business Bureau serving eastern North Carolina offers back-to-school shopping tips so parents can be savvy shoppers when it comes to school supplies.

“According to the National Retail Federation, consumers spent nearly $68 billion last year on school supplies for grades K-12 and college,” said Mallory Wojciechowski, president and chief executive officer of BBB serving eastern NC. “The costs can add up and it is important for families to plan out their school supply shopping ahead of time in order to maximize their purchases.”

To make the most out of back-to-school shopping, Better Business Bureau recommends families:

Make a shopping list. Even if families don’t have a school supply list yet, they can still purchase other items early, such as school clothing and in-class school essentials like pens, notebooks and backpacks. Make a list for each child, and start by “shopping at home” for items that may be left over from last year.

Create a budget. Do a quick price search online for the items on a list and add them all up. Be sure to clip coupons, and make note of discount codes and any cash-back or rebate programs. If the goal is to reduce spending, now is the time to decide how much to cut. Consumers may want to consider spending a bit more on high-quality products that will last longer and save money in the long run. 

Check for educational discounts. Some computer and software companies offer discounts to students and teachers with .edu email addresses. Some of these can be quite substantial, so check around.

Buy in bulk. Some schools ask parents to buy items that will be used by the entire class (tissues, hand sanitizer, etc.). Get together with other parents to shop in bulk. Parents of college students can also buy in bulk for snacks, toiletries and other items for future “care packages.”

Check the refund and exchange policies. Keep receipts and find out the exchange or return policy for items purchased during this time period. Keep in mind, some items may be non-refundable or have restocking fees associated with them.

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