The Best Way to Shop for Back-to-School Items

Whether you love or loathe the summer holidays, soon enough it’s time to start preparing for going back to school ready to start the autumn term afresh. This is traditionally the time for new shoes, bags, lunchboxes, stationery... The list goes on and the costs start to mount up. Therefore, I thought it might be helpful to suggest a few ways to manage things a little more cheaply and with a little less hassle (I’m sure no-one relishes a whole weekend spent trawling up and down the high street with reluctant children!).

Back to School items

Combine food shopping with clothes shopping

Keep an eye out for supermarket deals on school uniforms. They often start quite early (even before the summer holidays) but they last for a while and can be the best place to purchase reasonably priced basics such as grey or black skirts and trousers, white shirts, summer dresses, etc. Obviously they won’t stock items with specific school logos on them, but these are usually only available from one supplier anyway, with no flexibility on price. However, all the other components of the uniform can be found in the clothing section of supermarkets and you might well be able to pick up other essential items, such as stationery, on offer here too. Sign up to emails from your local or preferred store so that you are kept informed about the best deals.

Branded items

If your child wants or needs some branded items, use a price comparison website to find out which shops or websites offer them most cheaply. Sometimes, branded lunchboxes, for example, are included in the supermarkets’ discounted offers, but sportswear may well need to be purchased from a sportswear store, so take the time to research the cheapest deals. As this is done online, it shouldn’t take up too much time - PriceRunner.co.uk is a good place to start.

Department stores

Department stores such as Debenhams and John Lewis can be useful one-stop shops, selling a range of back-to-school products from many different brands (including their own) under one roof. Marks and Spencer is always a trusted name and sells a wide range of products, though outside of their food department, they only stock their own brand. These shops will also offer seasonal discounts, though their products are still likely to be more expensive than those in the supermarkets.

Use the internet

Check online for basics like stationery and lunchboxes - it’s quick and easy to do and the prices often cheaper than those found in regular shops. Buying certain items in bulk is also useful and this can be done more easily via websites that will deliver to your door. Amazon will probably be your most used online supplier, though it’s also worth checking eBay for new and used items as well. If you find a really useful website, make sure that you sign up for emails to alert you to any special offers that may be coming up.

Check your cupboards

Before you do any of the above, it might be worth checking through what you’ve already got. If your child has older siblings, cousins or friends who have passed on uniform, it could be that you don’t need to buy as much as you’d thought. Obviously it’s nice for younger children to get some new things that belong only to them, but with generic items such as school jumpers, you could well save yourself time and money by reusing what’s in storage.

Spread the load

Plan ahead for the next back-to-school frenzy and try and stock up on key items throughout the year, especially if you come across good sales or discounted offers. Obviously this isn’t as easy with clothes and shoes as children keep growing and will require regular size checks. However, certainly with clothes, it’s still possible to buy the next size up in sales, knowing that your child will grow into them later on.

When it comes to other items - school bags, stationery, etc - it is entirely possible to plan ahead. Buying things in a ‘little and often’ fashion can be easier financially and could even give your child something to look forward to: “You’ll be able to use the new tractor lunchbox when you move up into your next class!”

Happy shopping and enjoy the new school year!