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Play it Smart this Back-to-School Shopping Season

It is back-to-school season for students of all ages, which means, parents are gearing up for back-to-school shopping. The National Retail Federation estimates that nearly $135 billion will be spent on back-to-school and back-to-college shopping this year. With the current inflationary environment, consumers are choosing cheaper alternatives and paying more attention to sales, coupons and discount retailers. Better Business Bureau reminds consumers that coming up with a game plan early on will go a long way this school shopping season.

“Not only can back-to school shopping be time consuming, it can be expensive,” Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB Central East Texas said. “Planning ahead can really help keep expenses to a minimum, particularly in this environment.”

BBB recommends the following tips when looking for school-related items:

In-person shopping. Most retailers have dropped mask mandates, but some pharmacies or local stores may still have them. Supply chain issues could also impact shopping. When getting ready to shop, contact the store directly if you have questions about hours, policies, or to see if supplies are in stock.  

Do your homework. Whether your children are learning in-person at school or online from home, technology has come to the forefront over the past two years. The prices on many items have increased dramatically since last school year, so doing some research ahead of time could help you save money. Always remember to look up the retailer’s reputation on

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. Tax-free weekend begins August 11 in Texas, enabling shoppers to buy clothes, school supplies and other items without paying sales tax. Go to the Federation of Tax Administrators’ website for more information.

Ask for discounts. Many stores and software companies offer discounts. Some are available to students with either a “.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 sure they are affiliated with the retailer). It doesn’t hurt to ask, even if you don’t see a deal advertised at the store.

Consider buying in bulk. If meeting in person, some teachers may ask parents to buy bulk items (paper towels, tissues, wipes, hand sanitizer) 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. When shopping online, look out for “clickbait” ads that feature items that imply that you may want or need them based on your search history. Scammers could be trying to drive you to a different website to potentially steal personal information. Take note of the ad and go to the store’s website by directly typing into the search bar. Make note of the website’s privacy policy, and contact information, and always use a credit card when making a purchase. 

For more information

Go to BBB Back to School HQ for more helpful tips on surviving this school season. For more tips on how to be a savvy consumer, go to To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, please call BBB at 903-581-5704 or use BBB ScamTracker. Learn more about BBB Accreditation Standards and BBB Standards for Trust

Remember, great businesses are out there. Always look for the BBB seal; it’s the Sign of a Better BusinessSM. Start with companies you can trust by going to

About BBB: BBB is a nonprofit, business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Most BBB services to consumers are free of charge. BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.3 million companies, 11,000 charity reviews, dispute resolution services, alerts and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. Visit for more information. BBB Serving Central East Texas was founded in 1985 and serves 19 counties.

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