Study: 90% of July Back to School Items Sold for an Equal or Lower Price in August

schoolsuppliesstudy

Despite back to school ads saturating the airwaves earlier than ever before, consumers should not believe that July is a better time than August to buy back to school items.

In a NerdWallet analysis of over 500 back to school deals from 2012 across 9 national retailers such as Target, Walmart, Office Depot and Staples, 78% of the back to school items selling in July sold at the exact same price in August, 12% of items dropped in price in August, and only 10% of items rose in price.

Walmart was the most reliable pricer throughout the back to school season, offering 98% of back to school items surveyed for the same price in August as in July. Office Depot was the best back to school destination for procrastinators, as the retailer sold 62% of its items for cheaper in August, while Walgreens was the best store to buy at in July, as 50% of Walgreens back to school deals were more expensive in August.

Sample data set (full data set available below):

Back to School Deals of July 2012 and August 2012
OfficeMax Items + August Prices Savings in August 2012 When to Buy
Duracell Coppertop AA or AAA Batteries (20 pk) – $16.99 - -
Elmer’s and Avery Glue Sticks (3 ct) – $2.00 - -
OfficeMax Filler Paper (500 ct) – $0.50 $0.50 August
Target Items + August Prices Savings in August 2012 When to Buy
2-Pocket Poly Folder with or without prongs – $0.49 - -
Mead 70-sheet notebook (wide or college ruled) – $0.49 - -
RoseArt 12 ct Colored Pencils – $0.49 $0.03 August
Walmart Items + August Prices Savings in August 2012 When to Buy
Avery 1″ Durable Binder – $1.94 - -
Avery 5 Tab Style Edge Dividers – $2.50 - -
Avery 1″ Durable Binder With Clear Cover – $2.47 ($0.23) July
Staples Items + August Prices Savings in August 2012 When to Buy
2013 Staples desk pad calendar – $5.00 - -
Bic Mechanical pencils 24 pack – $4.00 - -
Bic Dry Erase Markers fine tip – 4 pack (Limit 2 per customer) – $1.00 ($0.50) July
Kroger Items + August Prices Savings in August 2012 When to Buy
Bic Brite Liner Highlighter 5pk – $1.99 - -
Bic Cristal Pens 10pk – $0.89 - -
Sharpie Permanent Markers 2pk – $0.99 $0.50 August
Office Depot Items + August Prices Savings in August 2012 When to Buy
3M Command Damage Free Hooks 3 pack – $2.00 - -
Elmer’s Washable School Glue – $1.00 - -
2 Hole Manual Pencil Sharpener – $0.25 $0.74 August
Kmart Items + August Prices Savings in August 2012 When to Buy
Crayola Crayons 24 ct. – $0.49 - -
Crayola Markers 10 ct. – $0.99 - -
Backpacks, Slings, or Messengers – $10.00 $4.00 August
Meijer Items + August Prices Savings in August 2012 When to Buy
7ct No. 2 Yellow Pencils – $0.44 - -
Black & White or Colored Marble Composition Books – $0.50 - -
It’s Academic Children’s 5″ Scissors – $0.74 $0.23 August
Walgreens Items + August Prices Savings in August 2012 When to Buy
100 pk Wexford Index Cards – $0.39 - -
Elmer’s Glue Sticks – 5pk colored or 6pk disappearing purple – $2.99 - -
PaperMate mechanical pencils 30pk – $2.99 ($1.00) July

Discussion

Back to school promotions for 2013 started as soon as some schools let out for the summer, with some advertising beginning even before the Fourth of July.

“Retailers want consumers to buy early and buy often,” says Matthew Ong, senior retail analyst at NerdWallet. “Just like how Black Friday was pushed earlier into Thanksgiving in 2012 than ever before, retailers are pushing the back to school season forward to try and encourage you to spend more money. Don’t give in – the deals will be the same or even better in August.”

Early retailer ad spend is a technique to fight for tight back to school consumer dollars, not an indication that the best deals will come and go before August. “While the weak economy means shoppers will likely want to break up the back to school tab over multiple pay periods, there’s really no other advantage to shopping in July for school supplies,” says Ong.

The study also revealed the key indicators of a good back to school deal. Shoppers who buy at Staples, for example, should look for glue and notebooks that can be purchased for 1¢ each with a minimum $5 purchase. Consumers should look for restricted quantity deals, too – deals tagged with qualifiers like “Limit 2” – because these deals are often the best of the season.

Buyer Beware:

Shoppers should be wary of bundled quantity deals, though, as these items might sell individually for a lower individual price in the following weeks. Bundles aren’t necessarily good deals.

Methodology

NerdWallet analyzed over 500 back to school deals from 9 retailers’ weekly ads from 2012. We were able to successfully find price points in both July and August for 181 of these deals, and these 181 deals were used as the sample size for the study. Some key considerations:

• Deals for the week of 7/29/12 were counted as July deals
• Prices within 1¢ were counted as the same price (ex. a Pink Pearl eraser selling at $0.50 in July was considered to be the same deal as a Pink Pearl eraser selling at $0.49 in August)
• If there were multiple price points in the same month, we chose the latest price in the month

About NerdWallet Shopping

NerdWallet Shopping provides tools and analysis to help shoppers save the most money possible on their everyday purchases. NerdWallet Shopping provides an online coupon code finder, a handmade seller coupon tool, and a rewards mall comparison tool to get shoppers the smallest tab for the best items.

Back to School Deals of July 2012 and August 2012
OfficeMax Items + August Prices Savings in August 2012 When to Buy
Duracell Coppertop AA or AAA Batteries (20 pk) – $16.99 - -
Elmer’s and Avery Glue Sticks (3 ct) – $2.00 - -
Expo Markers 4 Pack – $3.00 - -
OfficeMax Single Hole Punch – $2.00 - -
OfficeMax 2×2 Neon Self-Stick Note Cube – $1.00 - -
OfficeMax 3-Fastener Poly Folder – $0.50 - -
OfficeMax 3-Subject Notebook – $2.00 - -
OfficeMax Disappearing Purple or White Small Glue Sticks (4 ct) – $0.50 - -
OfficeMax Laminate Folders – $1.00 - -
OfficeMax Poly Notebook (70 Sheets) – $1.00 - -
Paper Mate Profile Retractable Ballpoint Pens (4 pk) – $1.00 - -
PaperPro Compact Stapler – $5.00 - -
Quartet Dry Erase Board (8.5″x11″) – $2.00 - -
Quartet EnduraGlide Black or Assorted Dry Erase Markers (4 pk) – $1.00 - -
Really Useful Storage Boxes – $0.50 - -
Resealable Gallon Bags (12 ct), Resealable Sandwich Bags (35 ct), and Paper Lunch Bags (50 ct) – $1.00 - -
Schoolio 13-Pocket Expanding File – $5.00 - -
Schoolio Clip Tubs (Paper Clips, Push Pins, or Binder Clips) – $2.00 - -
Schoolio Composition Books – $0.50 - -
Schoolio Index Cards (3×3, 100 pk) – $1.00 - -
Sharpie Permanent Markers (5 ct) – $3.00 - -
OfficeMax 1 Subject Notebook – $1.50 ($0.50) July
OfficeMax 1-Subject Poly Notebooks – $3.00 ($2.00) July
OfficeMax Filler Paper (500 ct) – $0.50 $0.50 August
Paper Mate Pink Pearl Erasers (3 pk) – $0.75 $0.25 August
Schoolio 3-Ring Binder – $0.25 $0.75 August
Target Items + August Prices Savings in August 2012 When to Buy
2-Pocket Poly Folder with or without prongs – $0.49 - -
Mead 70-sheet notebook (wide or college ruled) – $0.49 - -
Roseart 10 Ct Markers – $0.79 - -
Roseart 24 Ct Crayons – $0.25 - -
Roseart washable School Glue 4 oz – $0.34 - -
Sharpie 2 ct Fine-Tip Permanent Markers – $1 - -
Up & Up Index Cards 3×5 inch Ruled Cards – $0.49 - -
RoseArt 12 ct Colored Pencils – $0.49 $0.03 August
Walmart Items + August Prices Savings in August 2012 When to Buy
Avery 1″ Durable Binder – $1.94 - -
Avery 5 Tab Style Edge Dividers – $2.50 - -
Avery 8 Tab Style Edge Dividers – $3.96 - -
BIC Mechanical Pencil, 10 Ct – $1.47 - -
Bic Mechanical Pencils 24pk – $3.97 - -
Bic Pens 10pk – $0.97 - -
Bic White-Out – $1.00 - -
Bic White-Out Roller – $1.68 - -
Calculator – $1.00 - -
Character 2 Pocket Backpacks – $9.88 - -
Cra-Z-Art Crayons, 24ct – $0.25 - -
Cra-Z-Art Washable Glue Sticks, 3ct – $0.25 - -
Crayola Color Pencils 12pk – $0.97 - -
Crayola Color Pencils 24pk – $2.97 - -
Crayola Crayons 24pk – $0.50 - -
Crayola Dry Erase Board Set – $8.97 - -
Crayola Erasable Colored Pencils 12pk – $2.97 - -
Crayola Markers 10ct – $0.97 - -
Crayola Twistables Color Pencils 12pk – $3.42 - -
Crayola Twistables Crayons 24pk – $3.97 - -
Crayola Washable Crayons Large 8ct – $1.88 - -
Crayola Washable Markers 24ct – $1.97 - -
Crayola Water Color Paint – $0.50 - -
CraZArt Colored Pencils 12pk – $0.50 - -
Dixon Pencil 12ct – $0.47 - -
Dixon Pencil 20pk – $1.12 - -
Elmer’s Colored Washable Glue Sticks 5pk – $2.97 - -
Elmer’s Glue Stick – $0.10 - -
Elmer’s Glue Sticks 2pk – $0.50 - -
Elmer’s Large Washable Glue Sticks 3pk – $2.94 - -
Elmer’s White Glue – $0.50 - -
Expo Dry Erase 4pk – $2.50 - -
Fiskars 12″ Wood Ruler – $0.25 - -
Inc 6pk Pink Erasers – $1.84 - -
Index Cards – $0.48 - -
Large Pencil Box – $0.57 - -
Mead 2 Sided Dry Erase Board – $3.97 - -
Mini Pencil Box – $0.47 - -
Mini Stapler – $0.97 - -
Paper Mate Erasermate Pens 4pk – $2.28 - -
Paper Mate Mechanical Pencils Starter Kit – $3.97 - -
Paper Mate Pens 10pk – $0.97 - -
Pilot G2 Gel Pens 4pk – $4.47 - -
Pink Erasers 2pk – $0.50 - -
Post It Notes – $1.00 - -
Scotch Heavy Duty Shipping Packaging Tape – $2.88 - -
Scotch Magic Greener Tape – $2.47 - -
Scotch Tape 2pk – $1.00 - -
Sharpie 8ct – $3.97 - -
Sharpie Fine Point 2pk – $3.37 - -
Sharpie Markers 3pk – $1.54 - -
Single Pocket Character Backpacks – $6.88 - -
Student Scissors – $0.50 - -
Ticonderoga No.2 Pencils 10pk – $2.27 - -
Avery 1″ Durable Binder With Clear Cover – $2.47 ($0.23) July
Staples Items + August Prices Savings in August 2012 When to Buy
2013 Staples desk pad calendar – $5.00 - -
Bic Mechanical pencils 24 pack – $4.00 - -
Bic Velocity Retractable gel pens (Limit of 2 per customer) – $0.25 - -
RoseArt Colored Pencils 15 pack – $1.00 - -
Scotch Heavy Duty Shipping Packaging Tape – $2.00 - -
Scotch Magic Gem tape – $1.00 - -
Scotch Transparent Tape (3 pk) – $2.00 - -
Sharpie markers, fine tip 5 pack – $1.00 - -
Staples 3″ x 5″ memo books 75 sheets – 5 pack – $2.00 - -
Staples Accel 1-subject notebook 100 sheets – $2.00 - -
Staples Glue sticks – 4 pack – $1.00 - -
Staples Mini Staplers – (Limit of 2 per customer) – $1.00 - -
Staples photo supreme 8.5″ x 11″ paper – double-sided matte – $14.99 - -
Staples Slider pencil case (Limit 2 per customer) – $0.50 - -
Bic Dry Erase Markers fine tip – 4 pack (Limit 2 per customer) – $1.00 ($0.50) July
Sharpie permanent markets 12 pack – fine – $6.00 ($1.00) July
Staples 8.5″x11″ Writing Pad – $0.50 ($0.49) July
Staples school glue (Limit 4 per customer) – $0.25 ($0.24) July
Kroger Items + August Prices Savings in August 2012 When to Buy
Bic Brite Liner Highlighter 5pk – $1.99 - -
Bic Cristal Pens 10pk – $0.89 - -
Elmer’s Glue, 4oz – $1.49 - -
Mead Five Star Paper Portfolio – $0.99 - -
Office Works Glue Sticks 2-4pks – $0.99 - -
Office Works Multi-Purpose Paper 500 sheets – $3.49 - -
Office Works Wood Pencils 10pk – $0.50 - -
Oxford Twin Pocket Portfolio – $0.15 - -
Paper Mate Write Bros Pens 10pk – 3/$1 - -
Pentel RSVP Pens 2ct – $0.99 - -
Top Flight Composition Book – $0.50 - -
Top Flight Spiral Notebook, 70 sheets – $0.19 - -
Crayola Crayons 24ct – 2/$1 ($0.11) July
Sharpie Permanent Markers 2pk – $0.99 $0.50 August
Office Depot Items + August Prices Savings in August 2012 When to Buy
3M Command Damage Free Hooks 3 pack – $2.00 - -
Elmer’s Washable School Glue – $1.00 - -
FORAY™ Magnetic Dry-Erase Boards – $3.00 - -
Scholastic Glue Sticks 4 pack (Limit 3) – $0.50 - -
2 Hole Manual Pencil Sharpener – $0.25 $0.74 August
Fiskars 5″ Scissors for Kits, Blunt & Pointed Tip – $1.00 $1.00 August
Fiskars 7″ Student Scissors – $2.00 $1.00 August
Office Depot Acrylic Ruler (Limit 3) – $0.01 $0.49 August
Office Depot Brand School Copy Paper – $2.00 $2.00 August
Office Depot Flexible Ruler – $1.00 ($0.50) July
Office Depot Notebook 3 Hole Punch – $1.00 $3.00 August
Office Depot® Brand 2-Pocket Folders – $0.01 $0.09 August
Sharpie Single Permanent Markers – $0.50 $1.19 August
Kmart Items + August Prices Savings in August 2012 When to Buy
Crayola Crayons 24 ct. – $0.49 - -
Crayola Markers 10 ct. – $0.99 - -
Dixon 25 Pack Pencil Kit – $2.00 - -
Elmer’s Glue Stick 6 pack – $2.50 - -
Elmers School Glue 4 oz. – $0.50 - -
Expo Dry Erase Markers 4 pack – $2.50 - -
Fashion or Licensed Notebooks – $1.50 - -
Filler Paper 150 ct. – $0.75 - -
Five Star 1 Subject Notebooks – $2.00 - -
Folders, 3 prong or 2 pocket – $0.20 - -
Notebooks 70 sheets – $0.50 - -
Sharpie 4 pack Highlighters – $1.50 - -
Sharpie Fine or Ultra Fine Markers 2 pack – $1.00 - -
Solid Poly Folders – $0.50 - -
Backpacks, Slings, or Messengers – $10.00 $4.00 August
Character Backpacks – $12.00 ($3.00) July
Fashion or Licensed Folders – $0.50 $0.25 August
Lunch Kits – $7.99 $2.00 August
#2 Pencils 10 ct. – $0.50 $0.25 August
Plastic Pencil Boxes – $0.50 $0.50 August
RoseArt 12 ct. Colored Pencils – $1.00 ($0.50) July
Meijer Items + August Prices Savings in August 2012 When to Buy
7ct No. 2 Yellow Pencils – $0.44 - -
Black & White or Colored Marble Composition Books – $0.50 - -
Crayola 10ct Markers – $0.97 - -
Crayola 24ct Crayons – $0.50 - -
Crayola 8ct Washable Markers – $1.97 - -
Crayola ABC Tablet or Carolina Pad Learn to Write Tablets – $1.49 - -
Elmer’s 4oz Glue or 2pk Glue Stick – $0.50 - -
Fiskars Blunt or Pointed Scissors – $1.47 - -
Plastic School Box – $0.89 - -
It’s Academic Children’s 5″ Scissors – $0.74 $0.23 August
Walgreens Items + August Prices Savings in August 2012 When to Buy
100 pk Wexford Index Cards – $0.39 - -
Elmer’s Glue Sticks – 5pk colored or 6pk disappearing purple – $2.99 - -
Mead Portfolio or Notebook – BOGO - -
Sharpie Highlighters 4pk – $0.99 - -
Wexford Highlighter – $0.19 - -
Wexford or Penway 1 Subject Notebook – $0.49 - -
Elmers School Glue – $0.49 $0.30 August
Fiskars kids scissors – $1.49 ($0.50) July
PaperMate mechanical pencils 30pk – $2.99 ($1.00) July
Penway Classic Markers 10pk – $1.79 ($0.29) July
Penway Colored Pencils 12pk – $0.79 ($0.10) July
Penway Crayons 24pk – $0.49 ($0.10) July
School Supplies Box – $0.99 ($0.30) July
Wexford 2 Pocket Folder – $0.09 $0.08 August
Wexford 80 sheet composition book – $0.99 ($0.30) July
Wexford or Penway Filler Paper – $1.99 ($0.40) July

Sources

http://www.officemax.com/

http://www.target.com/

http://www.walmart.com/

http://www.staples.com/

http://www.kroger.com/

http://www.officedepot.com/

http://www.kmart.com/

http://www.meijer.com/

http://www.walgreens.com/

http://www.stockpilingmoms.com/

http://www.ultimatecouponclub.com/

http://fabulesslyfrugal.com/

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