The start of the school year is fast approaching for children and parents, and it is more important than ever with the rising costs of living and inflation to make informed choices when last-minute shopping for back-to-school supplies.
There are school-run, government-backed and local authority support schemes to help with the back-to-school shop and make your money go the extra mile. But it is hard to know where to find the best deals and what red flags to look out for which can help you save much needed time and money as well as anxiety and stress.
Here are some useful tips and tricks to help you when shopping online and instore for back-to-school supplies.
Know what you need and shop around
Make sure you understand what your school’s uniform policy is and especially what items need school branding and where they can be bought from. Even if you can only buy branded items from one place, make sure you find the best deals for everything else. Remember that for many items you do not need to buy from a school’s approved shop.
Some retailers might make you rush into paying by saying that stock is low, lots of people are looking right now, or that it’s only available for a limited time. This is not always true. So, take your time to compare prices and availability on other sites, and ignore sales tactics that pressure you.
Some businesses pay or reward people for positive reviews, so don’t believe everything you read. Fake reviews are difficult to spot, so try reading the negatives as well and find reviews on multiple sites. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
8 things to keep in mind
- Make a list of what you need and stick to it! It can be useful to speak to the school and request a resource list or find an online checklist to make sure you don’t forget anything. Additionally, you might already have left over stationery and notebooks from the previous school year that don’t need replacing and are still as good as new. For things like calculators, make sure you choose an exam board approved model to avoid expensive mistakes.
- Check your local pre-loved school uniform sites and ask your school’s PTA (parent-teacher association) if they have any upcoming second-hand uniform events or perhaps start one!
- If you feel able to, why not ask other parents if they are happy to pass on any school uniform their children no longer need.
- Set a realistic budget: don’t overspend on items you don’t need to keep the cost as low as possible.
- Remember: don’t buy too much at the start of the school year as your children will grow! Instead of purchasing 4 pairs of trousers, buy 2.
- Be careful! You are not always saving money when purchasing deals that are on offer, as some may not be genuine.
- Keep your receipts. If shopping online these will usually go straight into your inbox. When shopping in store, make sure to keep these receipts in a safe place.
- If you think that your school’s policy makes uniform unnecessarily expensive, speak to your school’s governing body or the PTA to raise your concerns.
More information on back-to-school shopping:
You may be eligible to receive a grant up to £200 to help with uniform costs. To see if you are eligible contact your local council.