Back-to-school discounts and smart-shopping ideas

By Joseph Pisani Associated Press

Stores are going all out to pull you in the door for back-to-school shopping.

That’s because every retailer wants a piece of the $83.8 billion that the National Retail Federation expects Americans will spend this year during the back-to-school season.

J.C. Penney is offering kids free haircuts, Office Depot is selling school supplies for pennies and Microsoft is giving out a free Xbox if you buy a computer.

Sound tempting? Put your armor on and act fast. Many of the deals end soon.

“They’re trying to get you in the store and keep you in there and spend more money,” said Lauren Greutman, deal expert at coupon website and founder of savings site

In order to actually save money, you need to focus on getting the deals and avoid getting sucked into buying stuff you don’t need.

Greutman suggests putting a list of everything you need and sticking to it. If school hasn’t started yet, check the school’s website. Many schools post a supplies list early. If not, call and ask.

Do some research before you head out shopping to see which retailers are offering deals. RetailMeNot, the coupon website, updates its site with back-to-school deals several times a day at

If you have an iPhone, you can also download RetailMeNot’s free app to keep up with new deals while you’re out shopping. Experts say you can expect back-to-school deals to continue until the middle of September.

To get you started, here is a selection of some of the back-to-school discounts big retailers are offering:


• Teen retailers are cutting prices on their jeans. All of American Eagle Outfitter’s blue jeans are $29.99 for a limited time, as much as $20 less than regular price until Thursday.

• Kmart is taking off 5 percent of purchases put on layaway. But keep in mind that plan costs $5.

• The free haircuts at J.C. Penney for kids runs through the end of August at stores that have a salon. (Locally, the Marysville store is all booked up, but there may be appointments at the Alderwood salon.)

• If you’re looking for school uniforms, Old Navy’s website says all uniforms are on sale until Sept. 5.


• Walmart is pricing 100 items, ranging from lunch bags to notebooks, at 88 cents throughout August.

• Staples is also selling a discount card for $10 that will give you 15 percent off school supplies until Sept. 15. It’s only worth it if you expect to spend more than $70. But check the restrictions first: You can’t use it on pricier items like calculators and flash drives.

• And every week until Labor Day, Office Depot is selling a select number of products for pocket change. You can find scissors for 8 cents and pocket folders for a penny.


• RadioShack is offering 10 percent off to students on lower-priced electronics like power strips, batters and calculators. The discount is available at about 1,000 RadioShack locations near major college campuses.

• When students buy a select Windows desktop or laptop computer from Dell, Hewlett Packard or Samsung, they can get a free Xbox 360 video game system.

• Students who buy an Apple Mac before Sept. 21 will get a $100 iTunes gift card to buy music, apps or books. Buy an iPad and you’ll get a $50 gift card.