Tuesday, July 18, 2017

8 Rookie Mistakes to Avoid with Back to School Shopping


The idea to start this site was hatched as a Mom of a Kindergartner trying to figure out the what, where, & when of school shopping for a kid required to wear uniforms to school.  Since then, I've learned quite a bit about the brands, the retailers, and the trends.  Here is my list of Rookie Mistakes to Avoid for Back to School Shopping so you can avoid these errors and enjoy a stress free school shopping season.


Waiting Until Last Minute

The shopping season for school uniforms at major retailers begins at the beginning of July.  While that seems early, it's not.  If you try to wait until closer to the start of the school year, you will find that the styles and sizes are picked over, or worse, out of stock.  For the best selection, shop in July. More retailers carry school uniform clothing items at this time of year, even if they don't offer them year-round, which gives you more options.  At many retailers, I've seen the best prices of the season during July. The Uniform Mom Best Bets series recommends the target price that you can realistically expect to find quality uniform clothing items. During peak Back to School shopping season, you can find items at bargain basement prices at discount retailers and even the retailers known for the highest quality are known to discount their uniform items 40% or more.

Overlooking the Uniform Exchange Program

I bet your school has a uniform exchange program or uniform locker where you can get school uniform basics secondhand for a fraction of the retail cost, or even for free.  Ask the other Moms in the neighborhood or post a question on the school message board.  As fast as kids grow, you will be surprised to find quality items like new, or even some new with tags.  Be sure to check out Uniform Mom's tips for shopping uniform consignment events.  You can also check out the online consignment stores, such as Swap.com.  You won't find uniform items tagged or sorted easily, but filter down by brands, color and size to find options available.  

Failing to Know the Tax Free Holiday in your State

Many states offer break from sales tax for a weekend or even for a full week on items needed for school such as clothing, shoes and school supplies. According to the 2017 National Retail Federation's Annual Back to School Survey, families with children in elementary through high school plan to spend an average $687.72 each.  Shopping during this holiday can save you an extra few percent on your Back to School haul.  Each summer, Uniform Mom publishes a list of tax free holidays in each state.

Waiting until Fall to Shop for Long Sleeve Polo Tops

When it is the middle of July, it is easy to overlook the long sleeve polo shirts hanging on the back to school display.  However, long sleeve polos are harder to find the longer you wait in the school year. (you can read about my hunt for the long sleeve polo here). By October, the retailers that don't carry uniforms year round are running out certain colors and sizes. Just save yourself the headache, and pick up at least 2 long sleeve polos during the peak Back to School shopping season.

Buying School Shoes too Early

One year, I picked up a pair of Mary Janes early in the Back to School season.  When my daughter put them on for the first day of school, she had already outgrown them.  I sent her to school wearing her PE shoes instead while I had to scramble that day to return them and find her hew ones that fit. ( I'd recommend you plan to hit the show stores about 2 weeks before school starts. You need to take the kids with you so they can get a proper measurement for sizing.

Buying the Cheap Shoes

Once.  Only once did I get my daughter a pair of school shoes at a discount retailer.  Basically, they lasted a week and I was out shopping again.  Shoes are probably the most expensive item on your back to school shopping list (okay at least while they are young), but spend the extra money to buy a pair of school shoes made with leather uppers.  Most shoe stores recommend you buy kids new shoes in a half size larger than the child's actual shoe size.  If they are over due for a growth spurt, you may be able to go up a full size with thicker socks, as long as the shoes aren't sliding around on their heels.  Once you find a quality shoe, it should last until the end of the school year or until they outgrow them.

Forgetting the Basics and the Accessories

Because of all of the Back To School clothing sales, it is a great time to stock up on basics like new underwear, undershirts, or bras.  But don't forget that your child might also need a new belt, tights, undershorts, or hair accessories.

Failing to Subscribe to the Uniform Mom Report Card

Each week, Uniform Mom lists the latest sales and coupon codes on schools clothing at major uniform retailers in the US.  If you're not already a subscriber, sign up so you always know what's on sale at each retailer and have a coupon code handy.

Photo Credit: For really #Big #Mistakes ...  Nadia Santoya. Licensed under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0.

(CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)