Back-to-school season is coming up, and in some areas, it’s unclear how it will play out. With vaccines now available, it could make for a close to normal school year in some areas of the United States as administrators make decisions about when and how to continue teaching. The Canadian government posted general guidelines on how K-12 should open and University Affairs should reopen for the 2021-2022 school year. Provincial governments are expected to provide more details in the coming weeks. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has suggestions for U.S. administrators to consider as they are making plans for the upcoming year.
As families prepare for the upcoming school year, National Retail Federation (NRF) studies indicate back-to-school spending leans towards the need for new outfits. It’s time to put away the sweat pants and put on the good clothes. Half (49%) of parents with school-aged children say their kids are most excited to shop for apparel this year, up from 42 percent last year.
Before determining what students may need for the year, be prepared for a shift from one teaching format to another, and set a budget. Planning ahead, as much as possible, will help keep expenses to a minimum and help everyone involved stay on task.
BBB recommends the following tips when looking for school related items, either in person or online:
In person shopping
Retailers are eager for shoppers to come back but with restrictions. Mask mandates, social distancing, hand sanitizer, and other precautions may still be in place for some locations, as well as restrictions for those who have not been vaccinated. When trying on the latest fall fashions, contact the retailer ahead of time for their requirements. Consider following CDC guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting items upon arriving home.
Research big ticket items
Check with your child’s school to find out their technology requirements, and determine if there are any changes necessary to the home’s high-speed internet. According to NRF, 63 percent of consumers expect at least some school and college classes will take place online this year, up from 55 percent when the original survey was conducted in July 2020.
Before purchasing an expensive laptop, tablet or other computer accessory, research the brands, warranty, customer reviews and the prices at various stores to make certain the best deal can be had. Also, look up the retailer’s reputation on BBB.org.
Shop smart with sales and tax-free weekends
Compare prices between different retail stores, save coupons, sign up for email alerts and redeem any cash-back or rebate offers. This will help get the best deals and stay within budget. Also, your state may have a tax free weekend, enabling you to buy clothes, school supplies and other items without paying sales tax. To see what your state offers, check out this resource from the Federation of Tax Administrators.
Ask for discounts
Many stores and software companies offer discounts. Some of them are available to students that have either an .edu email address or a student ID. Others may have a discount for signing up for marketing materials, or surf the internet for online coupons and discounts (make certain they are affiliated with the retailer). Even if you don’t see a discount advertised at the store, it doesn’t hurt to ask.
Consider buying in bulk
If meeting in person, some teachers may ask parents to buy bulk items (paper towels, tissues, wipes, hand sanitzer) for the entire classroom to use throughout the year. Compare lists with other parents and see if costs can be shared.
Shop wisely, safely online