5. Don't forget department stores.
While online shopping offers many conveniences, large department stores also offer the best deals in many cases. In fact, 6 in 10 parents surveyed by the National Retail Federation said they will shop department stores' own off-brand product lines in an effort to save. Discount and thrift stores were also among their planned stops.
Dougherty adds that the Hitwise data suggests that people are getting more of their shopping done in one place. If shoppers visit a Walmart or Target, for example, then they can get both school supplies and clothes, which saves time and, if timed right, also money.
6. Join forces with other parents.
Certain staple items, such as pens or notebooks, can be cheaper to buy in bulk, so coordinating purchases with other parents can generate savings, says Descano. That way, you can shop at a warehouse club (such as Sam's Club) or place bulk orders for team uniforms.
7. Take advantage of creative offers.
Because bricks-and-mortar retailers are so eager to lure customers away from online shops and into their stores, they're offering a variety of clever incentives. JCPenney, for example, is offering free kids' haircuts throughout August at their stores. "They're hoping those folks with shop at the same time," says Bodge. Meanwhile, Sears launched an anti-bullying campaign that coincides with back-to-school shopping; on Saturday, August 11, it offered a 15 percent discount on clothing and donated 5 percent of total apparel purchases to anti-bullying charities.
That's the kind of sale that parents can really get behind.