If you are a parent and haven't shopped for supplies yet, be ready for sticker shock. Huntington National Bank's annual backpack survey finds school supply prices are rising at five times the rate of inflation and Bay Area parents are feeling it. We only saw one dad, but the moms and kids were out in force when we were at a Colma target store.
Everywhere we looked parents had a back-to-school list and the purchases being checked off one by one.
"I feel Target is priced very well so why waste my time driving from store to store when I can get everything here?" said San Francisco resident Sandra Fullerton.
These guys like Target, you might like another store. But if you do want to make the rounds, you will be rewarded; retailers are selling some products for less than what they are paying for them. Those are called "loss leaders", because they are sold at a loss, but lead shoppers to the store.
Jill Cataldo from SuperCouponing.com teaches shoppers how to get great deals says, "every store in town is running loss leaders where [there are] 10 cent rulers, quarter glue sticks, these kinds of thing. I tend to carry my child's list with me and then as I am around town, I don't chase deals, but I keep the list, and when I see the things at bargain prices I am going to check them off and buy them when they are cheap."
At one Office Max there are huge banners in the windows promising weekly penny deals.
"You buy those loss leaders at the office supply stores you save the most money of all. For example last week Staples had notebooks, spiral note books, for one penny," said Joe Ridout from Consumer Action. He says a good strategy is to look for back to school deals where others may not think to look: drug stores, dollar stores, grocers.
Safeway has back to school supplies and they offer loss leaders too.
Here is a great tip from an unlikely source -- Pawngo, the online pawn broker. The folks there say think like a college student, even if your kids are only in elementary school.
"Any place that has an on campus book store, they are going to offer student discounts," said Ryan Fitzgerald from Pawngo.
You don't have to be a student on that campus, you just have to be a student somewhere.
"Generally they are assuming if you are 13 years old you probably not trying to game the system so they are going to trust that you are a student," said Fitzgerald.
Always start by digging through your kitchen drawers.
"Before you go shopping, shop your home. For things like binders, notebooks, pens you might have a lot of this stuff lying around your house and you can de-clutter and save money at the same time," said Ridout.
Student body cards are powerful and most of us don't think about using them until after school starts, but carry your old one now when you are out and always ask about a student discount, especially at stores located close to campuses.