Our evaluations and opinions are not influenced by our advertising relationships, but we may earn a commission from our partners’ links. This content is created independently from TIME’s editorial staff. Learn more.
You might still be in vacation mode, but retailers are ready for a new fall season—which means that now is the time to start taking advantage of back-to-school sales for everyone in your family. To help you plan your shopping list, we rounded up the best back-to-school summer sales on everything you need for a smart start to the academic year.
When do back to school sales start?
Back-to-school sales typically start in late July and pick up through August, because school start times vary across North America from August into September.
Our top back to school sales picks
The best back to school sales from major retailers
For a one-stop shopping experience for as many things on your list as possible, check out these back-to-school sales from major retailers.
Amazon: This behemoth will likely have everything on your list, from lunch bags to Elmer’s glue. There are daily steals and deals to be had online; just check back often to find them. Shop by grade at its Back-to School Shop, making it easy to find exactly what you need according to ages and stages. College students can enjoy free Prime membership for two months, plus pick up perks from Kindle Unlimited, Course Hero, and more.
Walmart: It’s a family affair at Walmart, where you can shop for steep discounts on supplies, snacks, and more, like backpacks and lunch bags for all school ages and stages. In addition, Walmart has also cut prices on laptops and dorm-room essentials. And if your kid absolutely needs a Play Station to blow off steam after school, Walmart is offering $50 off consoles.
Kohl’s: If you’re here for Kohl’s Cash, you’ll earn $10 for every $50 spent until August 13—and you can redeem it starting on August 14. You’ll earn it pretty quickly when shopping back-to-school deals like $24.99 backpacks for kids, back-to-college dorm essentials like deeply discounted twin XL mattress pads, and up to 40% off Levi’s denim and clothes for kids.
Back to school clothes and shoe sales
Adidas: Snap up gym clothes and shoes for up to 40% off.
Amazon: If your child wears a uniform to class and needs basics like polo shirts and khaki pants, you can pick everything up here so they look sharp for school. Find uniform-appropriate clothing from The Children’s Place, French Toast, and Nautica, among others. Plus, there are some great deals on running shoes for gym class.
American Eagle: Cargo pants are trending again, and jeans are always in style. Pick up both (along with new arrivals because you need tops for those bottoms) for 25% off until 8/30.
Bloomingdales: This behemoth offers big-time savings on your back-to-school clothes, shoes, and more. Pick up selected styles like Vineyard Vines for boys for up to 25% off until 8/27, then browse the Bloomingdales sale section and take an extra 30% off the price tag from 8/30 to 9/4.
Gap: Back-to-school shopping may feel incomplete without some new clothes for the first day. Gap offers 50% off clothing for boys, girls, and toddlers (get them pre-school ready) during its bonanza of price cuts on back-to-school styles.
Huckberry: Search the sale items here and enjoy an extra back-to-school saving with 15% already reduced items from 8/30 to 9/4. Faherty, Kahru, and Huckberry brands for teens and adults are great items for grabs.
DSW: Side off your summer sandals and lace up those New Balance, Adidas, and Vans (and more) when you shop this back-to-school sale on name-brand shoes for kids.
Old Navy: This retailer is always reliable for fun, fashionable, and affordable clothes for the whole family. Old Navy constantly has a sale going on, and their back-to-school deals include discounts of up to 50% off. Notable deals include tees and leggings for girls starting at $5, polos and graphic tees starting at $6, shorts starting at $7, and dresses starting at $8.
The North Face: College and university students should take advantage of 20% off all items with its generous student discount. Pick up outerwear and more and move comfortably on campus, no matter the weather. If your kiddo isn’t there yet, you can still enjoy up to 50% off of seasonal items until 8/30, plus pick up an additional 50% off its well-stocked sale aisle from 8/31 to 9/4.
Reebok: Get ready for sports season with a Back to School Collection that is 40% off full price, plus 50% off on sale items when you use code BACKTOSCHOOL. And if your kid can’t wait for basketball to start, get them ready by picking up a pair of Reebok’s Question Mid basketball shoes at half price until 8/28.
Saks Fifth Avenue: Cool kids wear Converse, and now you can buy them for up to 20% off. Plus, pick up Tory Burch accessories like bags for 30% off to look stylish at school pickup. Both sales last until 9/4.
Abercrombie Kids: Everyone from tots to teens will love these back-to-school styles. You’ll love that everything is 25 to 40% off.
Carters: This one’s for the littles in your life. Cute clothes for bargain prices during this sale. Scoop up its $5 deals (and 60% off) for babies and young kids and get them classroom-ready and dressed for comfort.
Dick’s Sporting Goods: Outfit your school athlete for less with Dick’s 50% off back-to-school sale on selected Nike, Adidas, Patagonia, and other brands.
Everlane: Fashionable teens and college students can enjoy a pre-fall sale for men and women. Pick up bags, denim, and summer-into-fall apparel for 25% off its original pieces.
Tea Collection: These colorful clothes for boys and girls are comfortable, cool—and on sale. And when you buy more, you save more. Save 15% when you buy three items, 20% off with four, and 25% off when you pick up five—with savings like this, Tea’s math looks good to us.
Hanna Andersson: Head back to the classroom in comfort when you shop this Swedish clothing designer’s wares—at its buy more, save more sale.
J.Crew Factory: Up to 40% off everything, plus an extra 20% when you spend $100 and 25% off when you spend $125 or more. J.Crew Factory has cute (well-made) clothes for kids, and if you need some basics for a school uniform like white tee-shirts and navy or black pants, you can buy them here at bargain prices.
Lands End: It may be hot now, but cooler fall temps aren’t far away. Find great deals (up to 60% off) on fleece sweatshirts, rain jackets, and school uniform essentials at Lands End.
Quince: You can find a little bit of everything here on sale (5 to 10% off) from lunchboxes for your kids, to girls’ cashmere hoodies for the cooler school days.
Urban Outfitters: Pre-teens and their older siblings will love the looks here. Their parents will love the price cuts. Take an extra 40% off sale items from 8/31 to 9/4. Dorm room bonus: Take up to 50% off Urban Outfitters Home’s eclectic and fun accessories and furniture, like shower curtains, bath mats, platform beds, duvets, and more.
Back to school supplies sales
Staples: Shop everything you need to make the grade here, from pre-sharpened pencils to graphing calculators. Bargain hunters rejoice: some supplies are as low as 40 cents.
Office Depot: Offering up to 60% off all best-selling school supplies, you can shop virtually by grade, including college, which is handy if you need items for multiple students in your life.
The Container Store: Organize yourself for the new school year with planners, bulletin and dry-erase boards, paper calendars, storage bins, and desk accessories. Sale prices vary, so check online for the best back-to-school deals.
Michaels: Students will enjoy saving on supplies, like crayons, sketchbooks, paint, and pens, during its Save with its Buy One, Get One sale. Elementary educators (or others) can grab brightly colored Creatology bulletin board supplies and learning kits for 40% off.
Back to school sales on backpacks and lunch boxes
CALPAK: High school and college students can save 10% on stylish laptop backpacks and insulated lunch bags.
Amazon: When you shop here for a lunchbag or water bottle, you can also purchase popular snacks like fruit snacks and granola bars to go in them. Plus these cute ice packs (we love the penguins) will guarantee food stays cool—which is helpful when back to school begins in August.
L.L. Bean: Classic backpacks, lunch bags, water bottles, and totes are on sale (10% and more on selected items) and designed to stand up to the toughest school days. Good to know: Their Deluxe Book Pack made our list of the best backpacks for college and high school.
Bentgo: Mix, match, save. You’ll save 10% when you bundle your child’s lunch bag, backpack, and accessories like water bottles, resumable ice packs, and cutlery.
Nordstrom Rack: Up to 50% off backpacks for your teen or older child from Adidas to Herschel Supply Company.
Vera Bradley: Find things you need for a fantastic fresh start at school here, from backpacks to laptop bags, lay flat lunch bags to layards, and more. Students and teachers who qualify can deduct 15% off their purchases. Vera Bradley is partnered with Blessings in a Backpack. This group provides weekend food to elementary school children in need. After you shop for your supplies, you can donate up to $25 to help support this important initiative, plus a free backpack charm.
Back to school sales on laptops and tablets
Amazon: Get over 20% off on Amazon Fire tablets and Samsung phones for your kids who need an upgrade to their electronics. While you’re here, look out for the Osprey Flare backpack, which made our list of the best laptop backpacks for offering great durability at a good price point.
Apple: Educators and college students can benefit from this deal—gift cards with an iPad or Mac, plus 20% off Apple Care.
Back Market: Let’s face it: Tech is expensive, and with all those other college costs creeping up, saving up to 70% on refurbished laptops, phones, and more is a welcome back-to-school experience.
Best Buy: OK, you can’t buy your favorite brand of sneakers here and probably not your first-grader's new lunchbox, but you can save big (markdowns are by $100 or more, depending on the product) on all the tech your kids will need for school.
Bose: Electronic devices like headphones and Bluetooth speakers are up to 45% off, so your favorite students can listen to their favorite music or podcasts for less.
Back to school sales for dorm room essentials
Amazon: Shop dorm room picks in Barbiecore colors, like $35 bean bag chairs and mini fridges in shades of pink, plus other fun accessories recommended by the stylish editors from Teen Vogue.
Etsy: Find fun and affordable items on Etsy designed to make your dorm room feel like home or even better. This bedside carafe and drinking glass set in vintage colors is a welcome step up from your high school water bottle.
Dormify: Up to 50% off everything you need to make your dorm room cool and comfy, from Zebra-striped throw pillows to cozy fleece blankets.
Marlow: Act fast (the offer ends 8/23) and get 15% off of highly rated and reviewed pillows and bedding bundles for your dorm room. If a good night’s sleep is a priority for doing well in school, these expertly engineered pillows get an A-plus for adjustable firmness and cooling-infused memory foam.
Wayfair: Furnishing your new college dorm suite is fun when you shop Wayfair’s 60% off back-to-school sale.
Macy's: New sheets and comforters are a great way to start the year off right, but you can pick up so much more at Macy’s Back to College sale—coffee makers and electric kettles are all marked down. Plus, get an extra 10% off with code HOME.
Marlow: Take an extra 15% off on a Marlow pillow, cooling protector, or both, and you’ll make sure to get your rest in college, even if your roommate snores.
Bed, Bath and Beyond: Pick up dorm room decor and essentials for every budget, from $20 blankets to $50 desk chairs.
Brooklinen: Never underestimate the power of a good night’s rest or daytime nap. If your kid sleeps away from home for school, these popular sheets will raise his (sleep) grade. Buy a Brooklinen back-to-school bundle and get 10% off its original price, plus a free sleep mask. Good to know: Brooklinen also made our list of the best places to buy bedding, thanks to its quality and generous 365-day return policy.
Back to school health, wellness, and beauty deals
Amazon: Stock up on shampoo and conditioner, makeup remover towelettes, toothpaste, and other hygiene essentials now. Amazon is also offering steep discounts on beauty and hair styling products, including the Revlon One-Step Volumizing Hair Dryer and Hot Air Brush ($39.94, usually $69.99) that’ll make mornings just a tad easier.
Clevr Blends: These barista-style super teas and lattes (named some of Oprah’s favorite things) contain healing mushrooms, fruits, adaptogens and probiotics, plus coconut and oat mlyks. Just add hot or cold water, blend, and boom– your cup will help you combat back-to-school stress, help your sleep, plus boost your mood and energy levels. New customers can receive 30% off for three months with code BACK2SCHOOL from August 31-September 4, 2023.
DiscountGlasses.com: While not a back-to-school sale, you can pick up all the specs (for 10% off) your kid needs to see the blackboard, read their library book, or protect themselves from computer glare.
Jonas Paul Eyewear: Kids glasses are 40% off at this back-to-school sale—snag some sturdy and stylish frames for the student in your life.
Kaja: Put your best face forward this fall with Kaja’s 35% off back-to-school makeup bundles for day or night.
Macy’s: Make sure all your skin care needs are met before school starts with 15% off beauty products from Macy’s. Use ULTIMATE from 8/24 to 8/27.
What to consider when buying back to school supplies
What does the supply list require?
Most teachers provide parents and students with a supply list that spells out what the child should bring to school. If your school does not provide one, sit down and make a list with your child. You can also check online for recommended materials for elementary, middle, and high school students.
If your child is heading off to college, ask them to reach out to the school’s residence office to find out what they should bring for the dorm room, and if they are sharing a space, it is worth coordinating with new roommates on appliances and any potentially shared items.
Does your child need it or want it?
There are many different brands and styles, from school supplies to new clothes. Figure out what your child actually needs, like a backpack big enough for all their books, versus what they might want, something like an overpriced branded water bottle.
Decide on a budget (and stick to it) for school supplies
By shopping back-to-school sales, you can usually keep to a budget. Shop around for the best deals and consider recycling (if possible) some supplies like notebooks or folders from the previous school year.
Make sure to shop quality and quantity
If you purchase a quality lunchbox or backpack, it should last you the entire school year and overall may save you money. A cheaper one may rip or break during the year and that will cut down on the cost effectiveness of your purchase. When it comes to things like crayons, pencils, or pens, whatever is on sale is usually the way to go.
Start back-to-school shopping early
It may feel strange to be purchasing school supplies along with your sunscreen, but hitting the summer sales can be a way to save money and ensure your child has everything they need well ahead of their school’s start date.
How we select the best back-to-school sales
We did a deep dive into all the retailers offering back-to-school sales and comparison shopped the steals and deals. We also contacted parents and educators to ask where they love to do their back-to-school shopping and how they budget for everything on their lists.
The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.