Even before the recent drama on Wall Street dampened consumer sentiment, the National Retail Federation said it expected back to school spending to be flat this year, with families limiting their purchases of clothing, gadgets, glue, and other school supplies to roughly the same levels as 2010. Still, that’d mean the average family will drop a bit over $600 to prepare for the upcoming school year. Here are seven stores with deals that’ll help the money go further.
After watching services like Chegg give students the option to rent (rather than buy) e-textbooks, the giant bookseller Amazon must have wondered, “Hey, why don’t we do that?” Last month, the company announced it would begin renting textbooks for its Kindle e-readers, and the rental rates represent discounts of up to 80% off compared to the retail price of print textbooks.
It’s difficult to time it right and get discounts on Apple products—mostly because Apple rarely ever discounts. So that makes Apple’s current back to school deal especially noteworthy: Now through September 20, students, parents of students, and workers in the education field are eligible for discounts of $50 to $200 off select Macs, and a $100 Apple “Back to School Card” (good at iTunes and the App Store, among others) is thrown in as a bonus.
The latest in a stream of back to school deals from CVS is a simple $10 off online purchases of $50 and up for orders placed by August 14, with free shipping via promo code FREESHIP. What’s weird is that CVS requires a code at all; for quite some time, the chain has offered free shipping on orders of $49 or more.
Through August 18, for every $20 you spend at Old Navy, you’ll receive $10 in Super C-A-S-H—which can be used for Old Navy purchases made from August 25 to 29. The bonus isn’t limited to $10; if you spend $40, you’ll get $20 back, spend $60 and get $30 back, and so on.
Dozens of back to school supplies are marked down at Office Depot, some items dramatically so: School glue goes for 1¢ (normally $1.19) with a coupon (code 701190015), while a 500-sheet ream of copy paper (normally $6.99) costs $1 after a mail-in rebate. (There’s a limit of five glue bottles and two mail-in rebates per household.) What’s more, a backpack and lunch tote is free with school purchases of $15 and up.
Print out coupons at OfficeMax.com to get in-store deals such as 50¢ 100-page composition notebooks (regularly $1.79), five-packs of Sharpie highlighters for $1 (normally $6.99), and $5 off purchases totaling $25 or more. Valid through August 13 only. Also, until September 6, when you make any purchase at Office Max, you’ll get $5 off purchases of at least $25 at (see more below) Payless Shoes.
The roster of sale items changes from week to week at Staples: Right now, the top deals (valid through Saturday, August 13) include two-pocket folders for 1¢ (with a $5 purchase), two-packs of black Sharpies for 25¢ (normally $1.99), and seven-packs of black pens that are just plain free with an instant rebate. Per household limits apply. For the duration of the back to school season, Staples is also selling Back to School Savings Passes for $10 apiece. With the pass in hand, all school supplies purchased in-store by September 17 are marked down by an additional 15%.
Target is one of the many retailers using Facebook to promote back to school deals. Each day through the end of August, a new “back to college” item such as a microwave oven or a cozy chair perfect for the dorm is displayed on Target’s 1,000 Likes for College page. The first 1,000 customers to like the item at Facebook get to buy it at 40% or 50% off.
TOYS R US
No, kids don’t need toys for school, though many parents might seriously consider bribing a child to get on the bus with a new toy. In this case, what’ll draw bargain shoppers to Toys R Us is art supplies: The toy store giant’s best deal this week (through August 13) is a buy one get one special on all Crayola products.