Skip to main content

This Year’s Best Back-to-School Sales & Back-to-School Shopping Tips

Looking for the best back-to-school deals for 2023? Check out our guide to the top back-to-school sales and discounts on school supplies, clothing, and electronics.
This Year’s Best Back-to-School Sales
Updated: July 27, 2023
Table of contents

The start of school is just around the corner for some kids. With kids heading back to school as early as mid-July in some districts, parents and teachers are bracing for the lengthy school supply lists, field trip fees, and new back-to-school clothes for your growing grade schoolers! 

Most U.S. kids will head back to school sometime between August 12-20th, while others start school after Labor Day. But back-to-school sales are ALREADY happening in June and July, and many parents may want to shop early to spread out the cost of back-to-school supplies. 

Additionally, student loan payments are scheduled to return for most in October 2023, with the average loan payment around $350.  Loan repayment could hit a hard financial blow for families with one or both parents paying loans.

Related: Your Ultimate Printable Back-to-School Checklist

With money tighter than ever and inflation high, families will be hunting for back-to-school deals wherever possible. With the new school year looming seemingly as soon as summer has started, we’ve put together the best spots and ways to find school supply sales and student discounts!

The Best Back-to-School Deals for 2023

Here are some of the best back-to-school deals we’ve spotted so far for 2023!

Amazon Lightning Deals

Each day Amazon offers thousands of what they call Lightning Deals on their merchandise. These items range from charging cables to electronics to beauty products and clothes. 

Sometimes you can save upwards of 50% of merchandise. These deals are a great way to look for clothes, backpacks, shoes, and electronics

Amazon Prime for College Students

If you have a college student, once they receive their .edu email, they can use it to sign up for six months of Amazon Prime for free! This deal also includes an additional 50% student discount rate of only $7.49 a month after the trial ends. 

The Children’s Place Clearance Sale 

The Children’s Place has slashed prices for the summer with up to 75% off clearance items. They also have a wide selection of graphic t’s for $3.99 each, backpacks 25% off, and their fall shop selection with 20% off clothing.

Kohl’s Back-to-School Discount 

Kohl’s is offering massive back-to-school discounts on clothing, school uniforms, and backpacks, 25%-50% off. Additionally, kids’ clearance items are marked down up to 65%!

Target Teacher Discount

If you’re a parent that also happens to be a teacher, take advantage of Target’s annual Teacher Discount Days. This year it runs from July 16th through September 9th and offers teachers 15% off.  

Walmart Back-to-School Sales 

Walmart is slashing its prices for back-to-school items and offering some of the best tech deals for 2023. They’re offering restored HP Chromebooks for under $50 in some instances!

Top 10 Tips to Save Money on Back-to-School Shopping 

  1. Purchase Quality Clothing, Shop Early, and Shop Off-Season 

​One of the number one questions parents should ask about back-to-school clothing is: Will it hold up?

We want warm winter coats that won’t shred on the first day, backpacks whose straps won’t rip immediately, lunchboxes that don’t crack in half the moment they’re dropped or bumped, and sweaters that don’t pill after the first wash. 

If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. A $10 backpack may seem great, but if the straps rip after only a month, you’ll be back at the store purchasing another one. Sometimes it's worth paying more for quality if you trust a brand. 

Family looks at new backpack for kindergarten daughter as they back to school shop
Image source: Getty Images

Late summer and early fall are the traditional back-to-school sales push. But a top money-saving strategy is to shop year-round. 

Have you got a coupon? See a great sale? Buy it now. Use a large plastic bin in the closet or laundry room to hold those purchases until needed. I also use this tactic with Christmas shopping, sometimes starting as early as July or August if I stumble across the perfect gift for someone. 

  1. Don't Replace What Isn't Broken 

​Save money on back-to-school shopping by prioritizing what needs to be bought new or at all. If your kid already has a great lunchbox, skip replacing that and opt for something they need, like a new pair of sneakers, a nice pair of jeans, or a handful of trendy tops. 

College students often need electronics like laptops, earphones, or a Chromebook. If the one they have is functional, hold off on purchasing a new one. 

Of course, you don’t want to wait until a device crashes, but perhaps wait until it starts running slowly or can’t support the applications your student needs. 

Electronic stores like Best Buy, Apple, Dell, & H&P often have specials year-round, especially Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals during the winter holiday season.

Digital Trends lists the best time of year to buy a laptop, and 4th of July sales top their list! They also recommend keeping an eye out for Amazon Prime Day. 

Backpacks are usually the exception to the above rule. Most bags are so thoroughly worn out they won’t survive another year. However, if your kid does have a nice bag or you ended up replacing one mid-year, skip the bag replacement and shop for a new one off-season. 

Backpacks that aren’t worn out work well for travel pretend play, camping, swimming, car entertainment, or an overnight bag. 

Another money-saving strategy is to evaluate how much of the supply list has to be turned in during the Fall. 

  1. Buy Duplicates 
mother and daughter back to school shopping
Image source: Getty Images

The odds are high that if your student needs a particular pen or a protractor for the classroom, they will need one for homework too. Try to pick up homework and art supply stashes during back-to-school planning to cut down on the last-minute panic sessions later.

Places like Office Depot, Staples, Target, Walmart, and your local dollar store are excellent places to stash up everyday items like Elmer’s glue, Crayola crayons, No. 2 pencils, dry-erase markers, and notebooks. 

If your kid likes a specific brand of t-shirt or shorts, buy in bulk when they’re on sale. Stores like Old Navy and Target have a great selection of kid and teen clothing basic that they usually offer in multiple colors! We love Cat & Jack T’s and pants from Target. 

  1. Put Classroom Needs First, Clothes Second 

Focus ​school supply shopping on what the child and instructor will need to get through their school days. New clothes and shoes are fun but less important to have right away, 

Consider saving money on back-to-school shopping by only purchasing one or two new outfits. If you have boys like mine, they’ll likely wear the same five items repeatedly anyway!

Special occasion items such as party dresses or band outfits can usually wait a few weeks or months. Of course, if your child attends a school with a uniform policy, a school uniform wardrobe is an essential early purchase.

  1. Set Limits and Stick to Your Back-to-School List 

For teens and preteens, announce a budget before shopping and stick to it! An alternative way to create boundaries around back-to-school expectations is to restrict the number of pieces or accessories you will cover. Perhaps they can get sunglasses or a handbag, but not both, or they can select up to five shirts. 

Or, better yet, set a monetary amount, for example, $50, and they can choose what to spend that money on (as long as it’s related to back to school). 

When buying clothes, allow your child to focus on what they like best. For example, my eldest loves sneakers, so that’s typically where he focuses his clothing budget. 

  1. Discuss Your Back-to-School Budget with Your Kids 

Mother and son back to school shopping for new clothes
Image source: Getty Images

When discussing finances with your kids, avoid saying, “We can’t afford that.” these words can cause kids to worry that there won’t be enough money for the essentials. Instead uses phrases like, “$100 shoes are not in the budget this year; here is what I can spend.” or “I only budgeted $100 for clothing, so I don’t have extra cash to go beyond that price point.”

If your kid truly wants something for their dorm room or a specific pair of Adidas shoes, encourage them to save and use their money. If your child doesn’t regularly earn cash, and your budget allows, see if there’s a way they can pick up extra chores around the house to earn the money needed. 

Yes, the money is still technically coming out of your wallet, but you’ll teach your kid the importance of working and earning something. 

Regardless of your financial picture, it’s essential to stick to what you can afford, but don’t be embarrassed if this is a year you need extra help. 

Many communities have backpack programs, free or discounted haircut programs, prom dress charities, and other local organizations and event drives that will happily assist with school supplies, winter clothing, sports gear, meals, and more. 

American public schools will also have information and paperwork available for families that may qualify for free or reduced meals or other district services.

  1. Take Advantage of Loyalty Discounts 

Loyalty discounts and member programs are great! If you're a member, places like Costco and Sam’s Club offer some of the best back-to-school deals! 

A club card at your local grocery store will save you cash when buying bulk to pack lunches or shopping week to week for your kids’ favorites. 

Retailers like Kohl’s and Old Navy offer versions of club cash which can be used on later purchases in-store or online. So instead of buying everything at once, get the essentials first, then come back in a few weeks once the club cash is activated and pick up some more items!

  1. Shop During Your State’s Tax-Free Weekend

Depending on where you live, you may be able to take advantage of tax-free shopping. I currently live in Maryland, which taxes EVERYTHING, but I grew up in Pennsylvania, which doesn’t tax most clothing or food. If you live close enough to another state with a lower tax rate or no taxes on clothing, consider a day trip for your back-to-school needs.

Many states offer tax-free weekends for school supplies ahead of the school year. As of June 2023, eleven states have signed on to participate with dates listed and an additional seven TDB: Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.

Some states, such as Florida and Texas, also offer sales tax holidays for things related to weather emergencies or eco-friendly products. 

Lastly, sign up for store emails a few weeks before back-to-school shopping. Receiving all those extra email alerts is annoying, but you may snag an excellent promo code or sale alert. You can always unsubscribe from email lists once you’ve completed your shopping!

  1. Save Up  Gift Cards for School Supplies 

If your child receives gift cards to Amazon, Target, or other places where school supplies or back-to-school clothing can be purchased, have them set some aside for the school season to buy what they need and want later.

Some retailers also offer buy-one-get-one deals for gift cards. For example, purchase a $50 gift card and receive a $10 gift card free! If you were going to spend $50 at that store anyway, purchase the gift card, and now you have $60 to spend instead of $50.

Your credit card may also allow you to cash in rewards points for gift cards at participating retailers. 

  1. Buy Pre-Owned Back-to-School Items

For some teens and tweens, thrifting for clothes is “cool.” If your kid is not one of them, don’t sweat it. You can still find things like electronics and many other items pre-owned or refurbished that look new. 

Amazon offers many items marked as “Pre-owned,” which often means someone opened the box and returned the item, never using it. This can be a great way to secure a lower cost. 

L. Elizabeth Forry

About L. Elizabeth Forry

L. Elizabeth Forry is an Early Childhood Educator with 15 years of classroom… Read more

Join the Family

Your partner in parenting from baby name inspiration to college planning.