Back-to-school sales aren't just for students

Take advantage of back-to-school sales even if you aren't headed to school this fall. Snag deals on electronics, office supplies, and clothing before the summer ends.

Michael Patrick/The Knoxville News Sentinel/AP/File
Shoppers by back-to-school supplies at a Walmart in Alcoa, Tenn.

If you think back-to-school sales are only for parents and students, you might be missing out on some good deals. Sure, the ads this time of year might go heavy on the backpacks and build-it-yourself dorm room gear, but those of us without kids (and not currently enrolled in higher education) only need to look past the brightly colored stuff to find deep discounts on products anyone can use.

It isn't all about zebra-print extra-long twin comforters; we've seen deals on everything from electronics to office supplies, and even paper towels. Here are four great back-to-school buys that non-students should consider.


While you may get a better discount on electronics on Black Friday, there are deals to be had on three key electronic devices during back-to-school season.

Office supply stores, big-box stores, and online retailers typically run sales on laptops as part of their back-to-school deals. But expect to see mostly 15"-or-smaller basic builds, not top-of-the-line gaming machines. Last summer, we saw plenty of laptops for less than $200, and 41% of those offers were Editors' Choice. Look for deals coming from Newegg, Groupon, and Staples.

Apple, unfortunately, could be missing from the sales. While Apple has run deals in the past, the retailer went silent last year before starting its back-to-school sale later than usual, and so far there are no mentions of sales at the Apple Store. What's more, with possible MacBook updates coming in the fall, you might want to hold off on Apple purchases anyway.

Printers are also a common sale item — especially at office supply stores — during the back-to-school season. Last year Staples ran the HP Envy Wireless e-All-in-One Printer for a low price of $40 (including $10 in rewards).

Finally, deals for add-on gadgets are popular this time of year. Expect deals on USB drives and headphones as the school year approaches. Last year Amazon ran lightning deals and deep discounts — including dropping the price of Onkyo headphones from $199 to $70 — through the retailer's back-to-school section.

Office Supplies

You probably don't need many Crayola products (though it might be a good time to stock up on multicolored gel pens for your adult coloring books). Still, back-to-school season offers killer deals on the office supplies you do use.

Skip buying any smaller office supplies online. The added cost of shipping would likely knock out the discount you'd get.

This seems to be the time of year to stock up on printer paper. Historically, we've seen deals from almost every major box store, and many also offer rebates and stackable coupons to lower those costs even further. Last year, reams of Staples-brand Multipurpose Paper hit a penny each (with a rebate).

If you're planning on moving soon, this would also be a good time to pick up those trusty Sharpies. We saw deep discounts on Sharpie-brand markers from Target, Walmart, and Office Depot and OfficeMax. But skip buying any smaller office supplies online. The added cost of shipping would likely knock out the discount you'd get.

Household Supplies

It's also a good time to stock up on household goods. Drugstores, big-box stores, and office supply stores run dozens of "fillers" (read: smaller items used to polish off a weekly circular) on sale every week during the back-to-school season. Kleenex saw some of the biggest discounts last year. Prices at Walgreens dropped as low as 37 cents per box (counting in-store rebates and rewards). But you can also find deals on hand sanitizer, toilet paper, paper towels, and other items targeted toward college freshmen heading for the dorm.


While most sales are geared toward school-age children, many clothing retailers offer storewide sales during the season. Old Navy has offered 40% to 50% off sitewide in the past, with extra savings on khakis, T-shirts, and jeans. If you're looking to show your support for your favorite college team, back-to-school is also a good time to stock up on team-branded apparel. Last year we saw deals from the Victoria's Secret college-centric Pink line. Kohl's also offered big discounts on some NCAA-branded gear.

Shoe retailers also offer sitewide sales, including adult sizes. Expect deals on end-of-the-season sandals and athletic shoes, as well as a smattering of discounts for buying multiple pairs. Last year Famous Footwear offered buy one, get one half off deals on many items.

If you're planning to stock up big, don't forget tax-free weekends. The shopping holidays vary by state, but can mean big savings on clothes and other supplies.

This article first appeared at

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