Saving Strategies for the Most Expensive Back-to-School Season
The Rising Costs of Back-to-School Shopping
This year's back-to-school season is expected to be the most expensive to date, with total spending projected to reach a record $41.5 billion, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). Families with children in elementary through high school are planning to spend an average of $890.07 on school supplies, $25 more than the previous year's record.
Financial Challenges and Inflation Impact
As a result of the increased costs, 43% of back-to-school shoppers will need to rely on some form of financing, according to a CNET Money survey. Inflation has played a significant role, with rising prices for essential items impacting families' budgets.
Smart Shopping Strategies
To navigate this expensive back-to-school season, experts offer several money-saving strategies. Consumer analyst Julie Ramhold suggests prioritizing "the absolute necessities" and delaying purchases of non-essential items like backpacks and lunchboxes until retailers offer clearance sales around Labor Day.
Timing and Price Tracking
Ramhold also advises waiting until October or November to take advantage of discounts on fall clothing and electronics. Utilizing price-tracking browser extensions such as CamelCamelCamel or Keepa can help monitor price changes and alert shoppers to price drops.
Sales Tax Holidays and Credit Card Rewards
Taking advantage of sales tax holidays, when states temporarily lift sales taxes, can provide additional savings. For example, New Jersey waives its sales tax rate on supplies and sporting equipment between Aug. 26 and Sept. 4, potentially saving shoppers significant amounts.
Maximizing Rewards and Cash Back
Consumer finance expert Andrea Woroch suggests applying for credit cards with sign-up bonuses and reviewing credit card rewards programs to maximize cash back or points for school supply purchases. Cash-back sites like CouponCabin.com can also help earn money back on online purchases.
Stacking Discounts and Exploring Alternatives
RetailMeNot experts recommend stacking discounts by combining credit card rewards, store coupons, and cash back offers while leveraging free loyalty programs. Additionally, shoppers can explore savings opportunities by purchasing gently-used items from resale sites or certified-refurbished electronics from reputable retailers.
Utilizing Existing Supplies and Swapping
Woroch advises shoppers to utilize existing supplies, repurposing half-used notebooks and organizing scattered sets of crayons or markers. Swapping gently used supplies with neighbors or participating in local Buy Nothing groups or school-based exchanges can also help reduce costs.
In conclusion, with careful planning and strategic shopping, families can navigate the most expensive back-to-school season to date. By prioritizing necessities, timing purchases, utilizing discounts, and exploring alternative options, families can save money and make the most of their back-to-school budget.
Conclusion: Implications for New Businesses Amid the Costliest Back-to-School Season
Hot Take: The Opportunity Amid Rising Costs
The escalating costs of the back-to-school season present both challenges and opportunities for new businesses. While families grapple with the financial strain, businesses can position themselves as problem-solvers, offering affordable alternatives and value-added services.
Adapting Business Strategies
New businesses can adapt their strategies to cater to the needs of cost-conscious consumers. This could involve offering discounts, bundling products, or providing flexible payment options. Businesses can also leverage technology, such as price-tracking browser extensions, to offer competitive pricing.
Maximizing Sales and Customer Loyalty
The back-to-school season is a prime time for businesses to maximize sales and build customer loyalty. By offering sales tax holidays, rewards programs, and cash-back options, businesses can attract and retain customers while enhancing their shopping experience.
Exploring New Avenues
The rising costs also open up new avenues for businesses. For instance, the resale market and certified-refurbished electronics sector present opportunities for businesses to offer cost-effective solutions. Businesses can also partner with local communities to facilitate supply swaps and exchanges.
In conclusion, the most expensive back-to-school season to date presents a unique landscape for new businesses. By adapting strategies, maximizing sales, and exploring new avenues, businesses can turn the challenges into opportunities, offering value to consumers and driving their own growth.