NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- As students head back to school, retailers are banking on strong sales in stores, despite the flimsy economic recovery.
Even though back-to-school spending is expected to reach almost $84 billion this year, compared to $68.8 billion in 2011, about 85% of shoppers say the economy is impacting their spending habits, according to the National Retail Federation.
When shopping the old-fashioned way -- in an actual store -- scoring the best deals should be the top priority. MainStreet assembled ten savings strategies when shopping in-store for back-to-school deals.
1. Take advantage of student discounts
Retailers are offering exclusive discounts to students. Apple is giving away a $50-$200 iTunes gift card to those students who purchase a new computer or iPad for back-to-school.
And as MainStreet mentioned in its 30 Student Discount You’ll Love, major clothing store like J. Crew, Banana Republic and Ann Taylor offer students 15%-20%-off items in the store.
2. Act quick, or ask for a rain check
If you spot an incredible deal, don’t expect it to last.
“The best deals go out of stock in no time. Ask if the store will provide a rain check, which is where the store will honor the discount when the item comes back in stock,” says savings expert Jeanette Pavini of Coupons.com.
Ask the salesperson for a rain check, but if you can’t get a straight answer, try asking the manager, who will have more authority to give you the discounted price at a later date.
3. Keep those receipts
Holding onto your receipts is always a good idea, especially if the item is damaged or malfunctioning and needs to be returned. But that’s not the only reason.
What happens if the item goes on sale right after you buy it? Head back to the store with your receipt and ask for a price adjustment. Each store has different policy when it comes to price adjustments. Typically, the store will only offer the adjustment within 15 to 30 days after your initial purchase.
4. Price matching doesn’t end after your purchase has been made
This happens all the time: You purchase something and then come across another retailer that sells the same item for a lower price. Believe it or not, there’s a strong chance the more expensive retailer will go the extra mile to keep you in their store.
“If you're unwaveringly loyal to your favorite store, you don't have to forsake them for a better deal. Instead, see if they have a price matching policy. Some stores will provide you with a retroactive credit when you show them a competitor's ad listing a lower price on the identical item,” says consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch.
5. Be the second to ‘open the box’
The major electronic stores usually have a section of the store devoted to “open-boxed” items -- which simply mean that someone returned the item, the box is opened and the store can’t sell it as a new item anymore.
“These products have the same warranty as the new product -- perhaps another customer bought the item, but didn’t like it. On average, you’ll save 20%, though I’ve seen these items discounted as much as 40%,” says Pavini.
6. Take a tax holiday