Back-to-School Shopping: Consumers Get a 'C' for Careful Spending

Even before Hurricane Irene interrupted back-to-school shopping, the nation was cautious about spending for the new semester. A teetering economy is affecting the purchasing choices of 75% of families with school-age children, and 70% said they planned to spend the same or less compared to last year, according to a MasterCard/Harris Interactive poll released this week.

The estimated $70 billion that we'll have forked over for school supplies and clothes before Labor Day sounds like a lot -- but apparently the sum could have been a lot higher. Nearly 70% of those interviewed were hunting for "discounts, coupons and deals," 50% were buying only must-have items, 44% were patronizing only stores that offered sales, and 46% were doing more comparison shopping.

If you want to keep your budget in check, try some of these savings ideas culled from DailyFinance's A-plus archives:
  • Spend a little more on a backpack that will last, unless you spot a sale.
  • Wait until you get the supply list from the teacher to avoid unnecessary purchases.
  • Don't start shopping for fall clothing until prices dip. September and early October are still warm in most regions.
  • If you must last-minute shop, leave the kids at home because they can influence decisions in the "Did I pay for that?" way, studies show.
  • Organize a clothes swap. This works especially well for the little ones.
  • Comb the consumer blogs and rating sites for quick comparison shopping.

For more data on back-to-school shopping, including a preview of holiday shopping intentions, please visit the Heart of Commerce blog. There you will also find MasterCard MarketPlace tips to help consumers save time and money this back-to-school season.


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28 Comments

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qwertymate

Making purchases on the eve of the school year can bankrupt anyone a bankrupt. I was surfing one the web trying to find items at affordable prices, and it was quite difficult I must say. I've read many comments (http://www.pissedconsumer.com/consumer-reviews/education.html) from people who try to manage their budget before coming school year, and solutions are quite different.
Thanks for the article, hope it will help me!

August 31 2011 at 12:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Annika

I really shopped around this year to find the best bargains. I was surprised to find 25 cent crayons at Toys R Us; usually their school supplies run kinda high, but they had really good prices on some things this year. Target usually has the most deals, but I also went ahead and got my kids backpacks from LLBean despite the cost; I got a backpack for my youngest son there last year and was pleasantly surprised at the quality. Usually I have to buy new backpacks every year, but I think these will last several before they wear out.
And don't forget to stock up on things like crayons and pencils; your kids will need those to do homework all year long.

August 29 2011 at 8:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ccdae5

Mmmmmm, is it different than when my kids went to school? New school clothes consisted of three new pairs of jeans, five new shirts, new undies, new socks, and a new pair of tennis shoes, all for about $100.00!

August 29 2011 at 8:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
toosmart4u

America goes over 50 billion dollars a month in debt from our trade. Over half that amount goes to China. It is time for us to buy American in everything we purchase. The GOP wants to cut everything except this debt. Time to vote Democratic and send the republicans home. We have to preserve social security and medicare.

August 29 2011 at 5:08 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to toosmart4u's comment
mrspelosi

nottoosmartatall dear. We democrats have been looting social security for years. We also stole 500 billion out of medicare to fund a bill that we don't even know what's in it.

As far as cutting debt dear. That is not in our liberal vocabulary. We democrats just like to spend and spend so one day there won't be anything left for anyone dearest!

August 29 2011 at 6:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mrspelosi's comment
darinw40@mail.com

Get some mental health treatment for your personality disorder...they have wonderful padded rooms for Republicans like you

August 30 2011 at 9:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down
payroll

Aw, this was a really great post. In theory I’d like to write like this also – taking time and real effort to make a good article… but what can I say… I procrastinate alot and never seem to get something done.


http://www.payroll-services-centre.co.uk/

August 29 2011 at 4:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bakethis

Shoppers may have gotten a C for careful. The stores should get a C for crappy merechandise.

August 29 2011 at 10:40 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to bakethis's comment
dabrownman

Crappy Chinese crap posing as merchandise. is more like it.

August 29 2011 at 10:46 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
kme3856082

Bothers me that on my 4th graders list in is 8 dozen pencils and severeal boxes of markers crayons. I am a little upset that I supply for teh class. WE are all on budgets . Ps last year I got a not my daughter got a not staing she needs more pencils . When I supplied 96 and crayons sent in 8 boxes. What did the kids who sent nothing in use them up? If I can buy supplies as a widowed mom of 3 others certainly can figure it out?

August 29 2011 at 10:03 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to kme3856082's comment
savemycountry911

It is a part of the liberal gimme, gimme, gimme mindset.

August 29 2011 at 3:24 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to savemycountry911's comment
mrspelosi

Bushy the rich do not have to wait for the Republicans to give tax cuts . President Obama all ready gave wealthy people a tax cut, that would include himself dear. I know that just aggravates the heck out of you Bushy darrrrrrrling. You can't have any more of our money dear. You already get enough of it with all the welfare you get.

August 29 2011 at 6:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down
mrspelosi

Bushy you should write a letter to your Govenor Quinn and ask him why he keeps handing out corporate welfare like candy. Another one of your hypocrite democrats, Governor Quinnocchio.

August 29 2011 at 6:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down
Aloofah

Merchants who are scam artists with centuries of experience in finding ways to steal your money while your eyes are still open. I am glad consumers are finally catching on and looking the other way.

August 29 2011 at 9:43 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Ron

A NORMAL person would cut back on spending. The ABNORMAL President is spending OUR money like it's going out of style! Oh, it is going out of style while he prints worthless money causing INFLATION!!!! You IDIOTS should get a clue!!!

August 28 2011 at 11:26 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Ron's comment
dabrownman

He thinks it is his money to squander on anything and everything you don't' want since it is not your money. Possession is 9/10th of the law and he has what used to be your money adn a law that lets him steal as much as he wants from you., Never ever trust your life or money to a Marxist,posing as a Socialist who says he is a mainstream, center right democrat.

August 29 2011 at 10:51 AM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
savemycountry911

Libs think money falls from the sky.......like their welfare checks.

August 29 2011 at 3:24 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to savemycountry911's comment
mrspelosi

Bushy no one Democrat or Republican collects more welfare then you darling.

August 29 2011 at 7:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down
mouse

Pay for an ad out of your own pockets you scam artists and leave legit. places alone.

August 28 2011 at 8:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply