The new school year is more than a month away, but back-to-school sales are already in full swing.
To get real steals on school and office supplies, shoppers should hit stores during the first days of August. The September 2013 issue of ShopSmart magazine, from Consumer Reports, features five easy tricks for saving on educational essentials.
“Don’t dash into an office-supply store to buy everything,” said Lisa Lee Freeman, editor-in-chief of ShopSmart. “If you find yourself beyond the sale bins, you could wind up paying more than twice as much as at a discount store.”
ShopSmart also conducted a price scan of common school and office supplies and found the biggest differences in price – at least 50 percent – on these seven items – notebook paper, security envelopes, sticky notes, one-subject notebooks, two-pocket folders, glue sticks, and pens.
Walmart was the low-price winner, but similar items were just a few cents more at Target.
Five ways to save
• Look for store-brand supplies. They’re not easy to find (Walmart had almost none), but shoppers who do can save as much as 74 percent compared to name-brand supplies.
• Check out weekly sales circulars the first of the month for the best deals. Sites such as Spoofee.com and SundaySaver.com links shoppers to local ads for dozens of stores.
• Download the Weekly Ads & Sales app. This mobile tool, free for Apple, allows users to view the latest ad pages while on the go without dealing with paper clutter.
• Look for sales online. ShopSmart found online prices for OfficeDepot, Staples, Target and Walmart closely matched those in stores, but shoppers may have to shell out for shipping.
• Ask for a price match. Shoppers who find a better deal somewhere else can show their phone or a paper ad at checkout at stores with price-matching policies.